The Library

Jnana Yoga



It might be argued that there are as many forms of yoga as there are yogis.  Each one of us is on our own path to the Ultimate.  However it is good that the number of forms can be slimmed down.  In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna describes to Arjuna just four paths of which Jnana yoga is one.


The yoga of knowledge or wisdom might seem daunting to some, implying the need for great academic learning and intelligence.  However the truth is far from that.  There are those who love to study, to read and debate with great minds.  There are vast libraries of spiritual texts all claiming to be imparting the essential knowledge for liberation.  It is easy to become lulled into a false sense of spirituality.  There are great scholars who may be able to recite whole passages of the Upanishads, The Bhagavad Gita and so forth, but if they fail to live in a way implementing their learning into a spiritual approach to life they are merely what are known as `jnana-bandhu` - friend of yoga.


In reality the learning and wisdom we are seeking is already inside us, and it is through inner awareness that we can achieve our goal.


There are three recognised types of jnana and these will depend upon the individual.  Tamas is the guna of inertia, sloth and lack of interest in seeking the ultimate.  Tamasa-jnana is the situation where a person may accept the first and easiest thing that comes along.  There is no desire to go further.  The guna of rajas or fire, is the active principle, where a person is easily distracted and lead down all sorts of alley ways.  Rajasa-jnana is the state where a person may be aware of a multiplicity of things, but does not see the unifying principle within them all.  Sattva guna is the principle of balance, and in Sattvika-jnana the individual sees the oneness in all.


Although in principle it should be easy to achieve the oneness within oneself, we make things difficult by masking the truth behind our ego, and the feeling that such a wonderful experience must be hard to find.  So we tend to fall back on others to help us through their teaching and writing etc. and fail to recognise our own innate wisdom.


Various stages of jnna are recognised.  Firstly we need to be drawn towards a spiritual goal – the stage of `shubha-iccha`.  From there we may begin to study in various ways - `vicarana`.  Through `tanu-manasi` - the time we give to thinking through things for ourself, we can move to the forth stage – `satta-apatti` which is the realisation of our pure being.  In the fifth stage - `asamsakti`, we begin to practice non-attachment naturally without a feelings of remorse or pleasure.  Asamsakti,  leads us to the recognition of what is really important in life, the final stage of liberation where we go beyond the three stages of sleeping and consciousness etc to `turya-ga`, to liberation and the realisation of absolute wisdom and oneness with the Ultimate.


Derek Osborn                                                                                             040504

Jnana mudra

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