Jnana Yoga


These writings may be better understood by readers who are familiar with the discipline of Jnana Yoga or who, at least, have a reasonable understanding of the main tenets of Transcendental Meditation or Buddhism. Still, anyone reading these words is kindly advised to also read some of the other writings included in the Writings section of this Website, namely: "About the Atma Vichara," "About the Atman" and "The Most Intimate Universality."

Those three writings elaborate further on some of the basic premises mentioned in this one and, for some readers, they may actually be essential readings. The writing "Jnana Yoga, Automatic Expression and Spiritism" may be also read as a vehicle for further clarification on the subject of Jnana Yoga. That writing is a short comparative analysis of the three practices alluded in its title.

By way of introduction, and given that the main concepts related to "Jnana Yoga and the Breath of Life" are subject to interpretation even from the part of some knowledgeable readers, I will first outline a brief description of those concepts.

The most important concept contemplated here is the concept of "Realization of the Self". In this context, the term Realization does not refer to any conceptualization, imagination or intellectual cogitation about the Self. There is a big difference between Realizing the Self and conceiving it, imagining it, or intellectualizing it. To Realize the Self is to Be the Self itself. Our imagination and our intellectual capabilities do not in any way give shape to the actual Realization of the Self.

When you come to the Realization of your Eternal Being, which is the "Self," you are totally aware that That Eternal Being is who you really are and have always been. There is not a shred of a doubt in your consciousness that that is the case. Realization, therefore, is the attainment of the unmistakable direct knowledge of That which your Eternal Essence really is.

The concept of "Liberation" is related to the concept of "Realization," but these two terms are not synonymous. There can be Realization without Liberation, but there cannot be Liberation without Realization. For example, some practitioners of Yoga can attain Realization at some point in their lives, but may attain Liberation only years later or only after making the final transition to the disembodied world. The term "Liberation" refers to the act of finally breaking free from the shackles of human passions and desires. Liberated individuals are no longer subject to the changing winds of any emotional, physical and intellectual egocentric needs and are thereby said to be exempt from the distracting internal disturbances usually generated when looking to satisfy those needs.

Very few people can spontaneously attain Liberation in their lifetimes, whereas a larger number can Realize the Self while incarnated. The difference between Realized non-Liberated individuals and Realized-Liberated ones is that the latter have basically burnt all their passions and desires, while the former still have some earthly attachments and needs to burn away. Realized individuals who are not yet Liberated are still subject to the previously-generated winds of their remaining natural tendencies (the unavoidable aspect of their own Prarabdha), but are no longer accumulating Karma for any future lives.

A third concept worth clarifying here is the concept of "Self." To put it simply, the Self is the all-encompassing Eternal Consciousness where all imaginable and unimaginable possibilities of Being exist. It is the creative energy whence all past, present and future creation emanates. It is eternally conscious and it is eternally blissful in its consciousness. It has no beginning and it has no end.

The brief definition of the Self I outlined above may sound familiar to you, as you may have already read or heard other similar universal concepts in the past. In fact, the concept of the Self I am using here may be very similar to the concept of God that some religions propose, but I prefer to use the term "Self" to prevent the reader from falling into any possible erroneous pre-conceived notions.

About the discipline of Jnana Yoga there is also not much I can say that may not have been said many times before. Still, I will outline a brief description of it.

Jnana Yoga is one of the main four branches of Yoga. The philosophy of Yoga, as expounded in the Bhagavad Gita, consists of four interrelated disciplines or paths: Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga.

Karma Yoga is the path of action and of renunciation of the fruits of those actions. Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion through which existence is offered and dedicated to a deity, cause or philosophical principles. Raja Yoga is the path of physical harmony and concentration and Jnana Yoga is the path of Philosophical Discrimination.

Among these four paths, Jnana Yoga is said to be the Direct Path, or the path through which Realization of the Self can be attained without the use of any parabolic means.

Each of these four paths is supposed to conform to one of the four basic natural tendencies innate in each individual. Those individuals who are inclined to action and service may select Karma Yoga as their path. Those who have devotional tendencies would by nature be better off taking the path of Bhakti Yoga. Individuals with a tendency to establish harmony in their bodies and minds would probably select Raja Yoga as their path, while those who are inclined to look at things with an inquisitive mind and from a philosophical perspective may feel attracted to the path of Jnana Yoga.

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