The many paths of yoga include Bhakti yoga (yoga of devotion), Raja yoga (royal yoga), and Karma yoga (yoga of service), as well as Jnana yoga (or Gnana yoga), the latter of which we’re discussing here.
Jnana Yoga is known to be one of the oldest concepts of yoga. It is believed to have originated during the Vedic age. The philosophy behind it, self-realization is considered as being one with the ultimate energy that is available in the universe.
Jnana Yoga is one of the well-known classical paths for moksha but believed to be the most difficult one. The word Jnana means wisdom or knowledge. When performing it, a great strength of will and intellect is required in order to go beyond an individual’s nature, thoughts, and ego. The process includes thinking, reflection, meditation, self-questioning, and awareness to be successful in experiencing self-realization that allows the individual to open their eyes from all the ideas and perception of reality. Jnana yoga is used to train the mind for deeper and higher level of self-realization. Gaining knowledge can be a bit complicated especially when the ultimate goal is for self-realization.
Jnana yoga is considered as a path for self-realization. The process that surrounds it, discuss the hardships experienced while in the route since it is focused on dealing with a formless reality that can prove to be difficult and can only be properly accomplished by individuals who have a high intellect.
How to do Jnana Yoga
Sadhana Chatushtaya is also known as the Four Pillars Of Knowledge. It is the stepping stone used by an individual to achieve the ultimate goal of Jnana yoga which is self-realization or liberating an individual from all the thoughts and perceptions about reality. It is advised to practice the four methods in the proper sequence to succeed and reach the ultimate goal. Even when an individual does not have the ultimate goal of self-realization, practicing these methods below will help cultivate one’s spiritual aspect and understand and alleviate all the suffering and difficulties experienced in his life.
This method is an individual’s intended and persistent intellectual effort to know the difference between reality and the unreal, the self and not-self, and the permanent and the impermanent.
This method is freeing oneself from all the worldly attachments that are only considered temporary. An individual can cultivate himself by undergoing the process of detaching from all worldly possessions and the individual’s egoistic self. True knowledge comes when the mind experiences dispassion from all sorts of temporary objects.
This method comprises six mental practices that are needed for an individual to attain a balance of the mental and emotional aspect and therefore developing one’s ability to see everything to what lies behind the illusions of Maya. All these practices help bring about an individual’s ability to attain mental discipline and control of oneself. In this aspect, proper meditation and extreme concentration can be easily accomplished.
This is when an individual can achieve peace of mind and react to external stimuli with proper moderation.
This is the practice that allows the mind to be strengthened for it to resist the control of one’s senses and train the senses as one of the mind’s instruments.
The practice of abandoning all the activities that are not part of one’s duty. By living a simple lifestyle, an individual can detach himself from all the temporary and worldly distractions that can block him from following the spiritual path.
This practice is experiencing the ability to tolerate the non-conducive situations in the external world, which can be the common source of an individual’s suffering. It is always the extreme opposites of one another.
This practice allows an individual to experience a sense of certainty and belief in all the teachings of his guru, the scriptures, and the path of Yoga.
This practice allows an individual to experience the completeness of one’s mind. An individual has a mind that is free from all the pain, troubles, and anxiety brought upon him by the world. The individual has a stable mental capacity and can dissociate from all the pleasures. The individual attains inner strength and peace of mind.
When practicing this method, an individual experiences an extreme desire to achieve freedom from suffering. An individual must be fully committed to the path, and by doing all of these processes, all of his desires will fade away.
The Seven Stages of Jnana
In order for an individual to experience oneness with the truth, the process can be complicated and difficult; there will be challenges and problems that will be faced. Jnana yoga has seven stages an individual will undergo during the process of self-realization.
An individual must have the desire to know the ultimate truth. By studying different scriptures, having the guidance of his teacher, and learning with people who also have the same goal in life. All the experiences in one’s life will be a part of the process for one’s self-realization.
In this stage, an individual has gained his knowledge, and his goal is to study, inquire, and study it thoroughly. By studying it with full focus, he will know what it means by properly meditating.
This stage is comprised of an individual being able to study the knowledge he has acquired. A clear path is now presented to the individual, and he is equipped with everything he needs to attain oneness with the truth. An individual will use his knowledge and focus on his soul without any temporary and worldly pleasures to distract him.
In this process, the deep focus is done, and the purification of the mind occurs. Desires from worldly pleasures leave an individual’s thoughts, and the path to realization is clear and without any blockages. The mind can see the real truth and can see beyond the illusions the world offers.
By knowing the ultimate truth, an individual can detach himself from all the pleasures, and he is able to become selfless. In this process, the individual turns to his inner being and experience pure bliss. The temporary and pleasures won’t be able to affect him, and he is able to move freely from the illusions of the world.
6. Padartha Bhavana
During this process, the illusions collapses, and the individual is able to see reality clearly and without any hindrances. He is able to see everything for what they really are and not what the illusions usually present it. The individual is fully immersed in his self and he completely understands that the soul is real and nothing else is.
In this process, the individual is able to see himself with supreme energy. A complete realization of oneself occurs and he is able to free himself. The individual fully experiences the oneness of everything with the supreme energy and breaks the idea of having separate identities from one another.
Jnana yoga is not easy to accomplish. A beginner can find it difficult to understand, but by being able to find a teacher that will be able to guide an individual on the path; one can comprehend its intellectual aspect. Also, it is important to remain humble and have compassion while undergoing the process. One can be easily distracted by all the thoughts that occur in the mind and the individual might forget the ultimate goal which is to experience the oneness with the supreme energy of all beings.
Bhakti yoga is the path of devotion to any deity or form of divine energy. It is considered a form of yoga that can be used for calming the mind and body, increasing self-awareness, and cultivating compassion. Bhakti yoga can also help individuals connect with their innermost selves.