Jnana Yoga

Jnana yoga means the practice of yoga through awareness, just as in bhakti yoga you go through the emotional channel. In the same way, in jnana yoga consciousness becomes the tool of higher awareness. Just as in raja yoga you have eight steps, in jnana yoga you have three. The first step is hearing the truth from the guru, and then contemplating on the truth you have heard from your guru is the second. Dissolving your mind or becoming one with the truth is the third.

To change the intellectual significance of jnana yoga and make it more intuitive there are methods in jnana yoga. There are four techniques. The first technique is discerning truth from untruth, called viveka, discrimination. The second is detachment or dispassion, vairagya. The third is having six special qualities. The fourth one is having an intense desire for liberation, mumukshutva.

The first of the six special qualities is to be able to maintain equanimity. The second quality is to be able to control the mind and the third one is to be able to withdraw the senses and mind. The fourth one is endurance power – tolerance. The fifth one is faith and the sixth one is having a mind without confusion. These are the six important qualities.

These are the four techniques which make a complete difference between the intellectual jnana yoga and the intuitive jnana yoga. The word jnana means knowledge, but this knowledge should not be misunderstood as intellectual knowledge. By knowledge we mean experience. Experience is a very personal thing.

This experience which everyone has is obtained through two channels: one is direct, the second is indirect. Indirect experience can be had through the senses and the mind. If there is a flower and you see the flower through your eyes, this is called indirect experience. Then there is another kind of experience known as direct experience. In this experience you do not need a vehicle of knowledge. The total experience is a subjective process. In jnana yoga, these two types of experiences are known as paroksha anubhuti and aparoksha anubhuti. When you know about the ultimate truth through the books it is called indirect experience, but when you know about the truth in samadhi that is called direct experience.

For example, if you read in a book, what is chocolate. The book has been written so well that you understand what chocolate should be. If anybody is asking you what is a chocolate, you can tell everything about it. This is called intellectual knowledge of chocolate and indirect experience.

If you have not read any book, but if you have taken a little bit of chocolate you have the experience, that is called direct experience. The experience of the truth should be from within rather than from the mind. That is why jnana yoga is a way where you arrive at the highest truth without any intellectual medium.

17 December 1979