“Lead me from the unreal to the real.
Lead me from darkness to light.
Lead me from mortality to immortality.”
Although she probably would deny it, I believe that Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a saint in the Catholic Christian Tradition, could be considered a yogini, a female practitioner of yoga.
The prayer above is a significant prayer for which she is known. Originally, it is a Sanskrit morning and evening prayer of the Himalayan Yoga Tradition
“Asato ma sad gamaya.
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya.
Mrityor ma amritam gamaya.”
She obviously heard this prayer often in India. Mother Teresa saw the presence of Christ in every person that she helped, always quoting the passage in Matthew’s gospel, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me (23:40).” Mother Teresa identified with the poor and the Lord of Life, Christ, within those poor. She considered herself acting as a disciple of Christ would act toward all those in need. This is a yoga understanding of the unity of all life and the presence of the Divine in all, especially the poor. She treated the poor as though they were Christ himself. This is a form of yoga called “bhakti yoga,” the practice of loving devotion to God, the Deity.
Mother Teresa’s life was a life of constant prayer and this prayer practice could also be considered “bhakti yoga.” She practiced meditation, another important part of the yoga tradition.
Her life was a life of “karma yoga,” as well. This is the practice of “selfless service.” She called it her mission “to the poorest of the poor.” Advanced yogi(ni)s live lives of non-violent service to all whom they encounter. This is another similarity between Saint Mother Teresa and Yogic saints and sages.
I have learned that many of the saints and sages of most of the religions of the world have very similar beliefs and practices, even though those practices are housed within a specific religion’s structure. All the mystics of each religion, and I am convinced that Mother Teresa was such a mystic, sound and act very similarly, regardless of the religion to which they are connected.
I think that’s because God, the Source of Life, is One! The closer one gets to experiencing that One God, the more alike are these mystics/saints and sages.
I pray to that Divinity within all of us!