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Wisdom Training with Yoga: Jnana

Posted by on Sep 28, 2010

Richard Rudd tells us that most of us need to attach a reason to our emotional states. “At the high end of the emotional spectrum, we believe that true joy is an effect rather than a cause. Because of this deep-seated belief, we spend most of our lives chasing whatever we think causes the effect of joy — it may be a perfect relationship, lots of money, fame, the perfect place to live, even our God. At the low end of the emotional spectrum, the game we play is blame. We blame anything from the food we have just eaten to our partners to the government for the reason that we feel bad. His words might spark a revolution within us.”  How might one stop blaming everything outside themselves when they feel empty?  How do we find greater true joy?

Jnana yoga has an answer to Rudd’s deep question.  Jnana is from the Sanskrit, meaning clear insight or wisdom. Janana yoga is the process of discernment, where we clear away all our intellectual assumptions to make room for a higher understanding.  Many call this form of yoga, that of the intellect. This can cause confusion, however, because it is not through the constructs of the mind, necessarily, that we are able to discern the truth. Swami Sivananda tells us, in fact, that “jnana is the most difficult path, requiring tremendous strength of will and intellect. Taking the philosophy of Vedanta, the Jnana Yogi uses his mind to inquire into its own nature. We perceive the space inside and outside a glass as different, just as we see ourselves as separate from God. Jnana Yoga leads the devotee to experience his unity with God directly by breaking the glass, dissolving the veils of ignorance. Before practicing Jnana Yoga, the aspirant needs to have integrated the lessons of the other yogic paths – for without selflessness and love of God, strength of body and mind, the search for self-realization can become mere idle speculation. “

Due to the rigorous nature of this path, Jnana yoga usually breaks down into smaller sections as such: Four different salvations are studied in order to glean deeper wisdom from its practice.

First, one studies Vairagya, Sanskrit for detaching oneself from their surroundings. This is to allow the practitioner to temporarily disassociate from their rote environmental conditioning. This is also sometimes called the Dispassion in Jnana yoga.

Next, an aspirant would study Viveka, or discrimination.  In this stage a practitioner learns to tell the difference between what is real and what is temporal (essentially almost everything else).  This is a stage meant to break down locked-in perceptions of people, places and things.

Next would be the practice of Mumukshutva, a Sanskrit term most closely describing an eternal sense of longing or a deep desire for an escape from the temporal illusions one becomes aware of through Vairagya and Viveka.
Then, there are what are called the Six Virtues or Shat Sampat.

1) Tranquility (shama): Intentional cultivating an inner attitude of tranquility, peace of mind, or contentment is a foundation on which the other practices can rest.

2) Training (dama): Training of the senses (indriyas) means the responsible use of the senses in positive, useful directions, both in our actions in the world and the nature of inner thoughts we cultivate.

3) Withdrawal (uparati): With a proper inner attitude of tranquility, and the training of the senses, there also comes a sense of satiety, or natural sense of completeness, as if no more of the sensory experience need be sought.

4) Forbearance (titiksha): Forbearance and tolerance of external situations allow one to be free from the onslaught of the sensory stimuli and pressures from others to participate in actions, speech, or thoughts that one knows to be going in a not-useful direction.

5) Faith (shraddha): An intense sense of certainty about the direction one is going keeps one going in the right direction, persisting in following the teachings and practices that have been examined and seen to be productive, useful, and fruit bearing.

6) Focus (samadhana): Resolute focus towards harmonizing and balancing of mind, its thoughts, and emotions, along with the other virtues, brings a freedom to pursue the depth of inner exploration and realization.

One would then practice deep and profound meditation or niddhidhyasana on everything they had learned.  This is the path of Jnana yoga.

(c) 2010 Christina Sarich

My Cool Yogi friend Sophie’s Site



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