The present article will try to show differences and similarities in description about the ascetic teaching and mystical experience of two totally different spiritual traditions, i.e. in regard to the “Jesus Prayer” in the late Byzantine era and “yoga” in ancient India. A prayer made much use of by Christians in the Eastern Orthodox Church is the so-called “Jesus Prayer” or “Prayer of the heart,” including a short phrase, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me” that is repeatedly and continuously recited.1 The Jesus Prayer began to spread generally in the Eastern Church with the birth of “hesychasm,” a spiritual movement of Orthodox monasticism in the 14th century Byzantine empire. But a significant part of this movement was not so much the establishment of the Jesus Prayer itself but a special psycho-physical technique which began to be practiced with this prayer by monks on the Holy Mountain of Athos. What interests us in this regard is that this psycho-physical method, including a special bodily posture and a breath control technique, appears to be quite similar to the methods set out in another religious tradition, namely that of yoga that developed from ancient times in India. Because of its impressive similarity, a Byzantinologist, Endre von Ivánka, called the practitioners of hesychasm “byzantinische Yogis.”2 For this present article we take up the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali with its comprehensive method of yoga, and clarify similarities and differences in the conceptual and methodological frameworks of the two systems.
Hisamatsu, Eiji and Pattni, Ramesh
"Yoga and the Jesus Prayer—A Comparison between aṣtānga yoga in the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali and the Psycho-Physical Method of Hesychasm,"
Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies:
Vol. 28, Article 7.
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.7825/2164-6279.1606