The Awkward Atheist

I’ve been looking for a while to join a decent yoga class, trying out a few but not having much success.  It all started when I came back to Uni after Easter having had conspiracy theories driven into my head for three weeks by my brother…and a totally new perspective on the mind (which I’ll probably write about another time).  Basically, I started wanting to do yoga again to see if I could find some sort of enlightenment or inner peace or something.  The classes I went to didn’t even touch on the spiritual side of it, so I was a bit disappointed.

Then, out of the blue, I thought I’d found the perfect solution on the notice board in Sainsbury’s.  It advertised a class run by the Hare Krishna movement, along with meditation, so I Googled it when I got home and found out that they were running a discussion the next night about “judgement, feeling judged and how we can use judgement in a spiritual and healthy way”.  I thought it sounded super-interesting and that perhaps I’d finally found someone who could teach me about greater consciousness and opening the mind.

I think I accidently joined a cult.

I went to the discussion and found that the other people there were really welcoming and friendly, we chatted for a while before the meeting started and I met the woman who runs the yoga and meditation classes, who was also running the discussion.  She immediately told me that yoga is so much more about the mind than the body, which was exactly what I was hoping for.  Then, we started the discussion.  At first it was great, it was open and interesting and quite informative, but then all of a sudden it became very, VERY focused on serving God, pleasing God, praying to God, being a devotee of God…And it got confusing.  I thought I understood the difference between “judgement” and “discrimination”, but I don’t think it’s what I thought it was.  It was made clear at the beginning of the talk that “judgement”, i.e., putting people into boxes, labelling them and having expectations of them, is bad and fundamentally untrue.  Okay, I thought.  But by the end of the talk, it had transpired that “discrimination” is good and a means of protecting ourselves, and we discriminate by seeing people as either: 1) God. 2) Devotees of God. 3) Receptive to the spiritual messages of God, or 4) Against God, a.k.a. Demons, a.k.a. Atheists.  

I’m an atheist, by the way.

After that point, I just didn’t understand what was going on.  Is categorising ALL people as one of four types NOT judging them/putting them in boxes/having unfounded expectations of them?  That seemed extremely closed-minded coming from someone who is supposedly enlightened.

The point of the entire discussion ended up being: To be enlightened, and to end the cycle of reincarnation, all you have to do is devote yourself to God.

At the end, she asked me what I thought and it was all very awkward.

I will be going back, though.  I’ve yet to try out the yoga class and I’m still quite hopeful for that, and maybe I’ll ask for a bit of an explanation on some of the things that didn’t make any sense.  I’ll probably also go to more of the discussions, even if I disagree with the ideas, they were certainly interesting.