Quoting Fr. Déchanet

dechanetI’ve read parts of Christian Yoga before, but never all the way through. I just got my very own copy in the mail, and it’s old. When I cracked the binding, I smelled the old paperback book smell–the smell that takes me back to sleepovers in my grandparents’ basement, when I would read the books my dad read when he was a little kid. Someday, someone will tell me that it’s the smell of bacteria–like the lovely after-rain smell. Even so, I will still enjoy it.

Here’s a quote from the Introduction:

What I then read about Yoga and about some of its aims simply encouraged me to embark upon, and then go through with, an experiment about the appropriateness of which I became convinced at the very first attempt. Yoga, I found, was first of all

“a particular way of fashioning oneself,” the way of the man who “by means of certain disciplines, both physiological [postures and breath-control] and psychological [focusing of thought], was joined; that is to say, was in a condition of coherence in accordance with his vital functions, and in a state of balance such that life could be controlled and made effective. This is therefore the opposite of fragmented living, of naive incoherence, impotence and unawareness.” Its symbol is “the wheel, where the rim is perfectly jointed to the nave by means of the spokes.” [1]

But Yoga was also joining with the Absolute. And here I had to be careful. It was essential that my exercises and especially my concentration should turn me not towards the Self, the It, the Absolutely, the Wholly-One, the vague “Ungraspable” of Hindu mystics, but towards the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the living God, three in one, the principle of all things, my Creator and Father, him in whom I had natural and supernatural life. I felt it was absolutely necessary that my experiment should place itself under the protection and sanction of grace. Not heaven-storming; but, instead, working to remove certain blockages within that were hindering supernatural action. Not to turn in on myself; but on the contrary to launch myself outwards towards the Other, to lose myself in him, to fix my thinking and especially my heart in God, in the God of love, and in Christ; and to maintain the sort of silence that would be a form of mute speech or dialogue with the Eternal. [2]


[1] Here Déchanet includes a footnote: Cf. P. Masson-Oursel, “Yoga: what it is not, what it is, and what it can become,” in Yoga, science de l’homme intégral, Cahiers du Sud, Paris, 1953, pp. 6 and 7. A similar definition is to be found in a study by M. Olivier Lacombe, “Sur le Yoga indien,” in Études Carmélitaines, 22nd year, 1937, p. 167.

[2] The entire quote comes from: Déchanet, J.-M. Christian Yoga. Tr. Roland Hindmarsh. New York: Harper & Row, 1972. Originally published as La Voie du Silence, 1956.

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