Law and Yoga
7 Journal of Law and Social Deviance, 2014
79 Pages Posted: 27 May 2014 Last revised: 22 Sep 2015
Date Written: May 24, 2014
“Law and yoga” is a phrase that is rarely heard anywhere, much less in courtrooms or in yoga studios. This oxymoronic pairing represents two entities and two separate worlds, without an obvious connection. The practice of law involves constant judgment of others, while the yoga tradition aims to avoid judgment; yoga consecrates silence, while law revolves around discourse; yoga focuses in the most extreme way on the given moment, whereas law looks to the past and the future, particularly with regard to precedents; yoga deals with the whole and the one, whereas law dissects every issue into minutiae and subparts. Despite these dichotomies, yoga, as an in-depth, comprehensive approach to life, can be a model by which to re-examine behavior in the world of law, thereby contributing tools and values that can be useful for resolving legal crises and social conflicts.
Yoga philosophy stresses that cutting oneself off from thinking through silence enables exploration and seeking, which, in turn, leads to finding our inner truth. The process of seeking inner truth can lead to the discovery of the external truth, the Dharma, which embodies both the desirable and the available. This insight can be applied to a legal framework in order to help bridge the gap between justice and law and reconcile factual truth and legal truth. The article recognizes that law and justice are not one and the same, and that various legal rules and doctrines, to do with proof, evidence, precedent, and other variables, sometimes prevent factual truth from translating into legal truth and decisions. Nonetheless, diminishing this gap - i.e., turning the desirable into the actual - can be more easily achieved through the application of yoga principles to the practice of law, thereby achieving what those in the legal profession aspire to.
Keywords: Yoga Philosophy; Jurisprudence; Law and Justice; Law and Society; Legal Truth; Freedom
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