What Is Jnana Yoga?
Jnana means “knowledge or wisdom” and Jnana Yoga is the path of attaining knowledge of the true nature of reality through the practice of meditation, self-inquiry, and contemplation. It can be defined as the “awareness of absolute consciousness,” and is a comprehensive practice of self-study.
In Jnana yoga, the mind is used to inquire into its own nature and to transcend the mind’s identification with its thoughts and ego. The goal of Jnana yoga is to become liberated from the illusionary world of Maya (self-limiting thoughts and perceptions) and to achieve the union of the inner Self (Atman) with Supreme energy (Brahman). This is achieved by practicing the mental techniques of self-questioning, reflection, and conscious illumination that are defined in the Four Pillars of Knowledge. Jnana Yoga utilizes a one-pointed meditation on a single question of self-inquiry to remove the veils of illusion created by your concepts, world views, and perceptions. This allows you to realize the temporary and illusionary nature of Maya and to see the Supreme energy.
Pillars of Jnana yoga
There are four pillars of Jnana Yoga that are described below:
- Viveka: It is a deliberate, continuous intellectual effort to distinguish between the real and the unreal, the permanent and the temporary, and the Self and not-Self.
- Vairagya: It is cultivating non-attachment toward the temporal objects of worldly possessions and the ego-mind.
- Shatsampat: There are five mental practices to stabilize the mind and emotions, and enhance the ability to see beyond.•Shama (calmness): The ability to keep the mind peaceful.
•Uparati (withdrawal): It is the abandonment of all activities that are not one’s Dharma (Duty). A simple lifestyle is followed that contains no worldly distractions from the spiritual path.
•Titiksha (endurance): It is the tolerance of external non-conducive situations that are commonly considered to produce suffering, especially in extreme opposite states (success and failure, hot and cold, pleasure and pain).
•Shraddha (faith): It is a sense of certainty and belief in one’s guru, the scriptures, and the yogic path.
•Samadhana (concentration): This is the complete one-pointedness of the mind.
- Mumukshutva (yearning): It is an intense and passionate desire to achieve liberation from suffering. In order to achieve liberation, one must be completely committed to the path, with such longing that all other desires fade away.
Practices of Jnana Yoga
- Sravana: It is hearing or experiencing the sacred knowledge in the ancient Vedic texts of the Upanishad. Usually, a guru will guide the yogi through discussions on the philosophy of non-dualism. At this stage, the student should read and study the Upanishads and achieve a deep understanding of the concepts of Atman and Brahman and the philosophy of non-dualism.
- Manana: It is thinking and reflecting on these teachings of non-duality. The student is expected to spend many hours thinking and contemplating the various ideas of Svadhyaya and Sravana.
- Nididhyasana: It is the constant and profound meditation on the inner Self. This involves meditation and reflection on the meaning of the Maha-Vakyas, the primary mantras or “Great Sayings” of the Upanishads. Through the continuous focus on these seeds of wisdom, a yogi can obtain the union of thought and action, knowing and being.
Benefits of Jnana Yoga
- It channels the flow of energy in your body and couples it with conscious breathing.
- It improves your blood circulation. When your circulation improves, your organs, such as the kidneys, liver, and heart, function better. This, in the long run, helps prevent serious diseases of these organs.
- It calms your mind and keeps all thoughts away. This is an excellent technique of mindfulness that reduces stress and anxiety.
- When you practice jnana yoga mudra, which involves touching the tips of your thumb and index finger together, it works as a technique of acupressure. This helps in making your pituitary and pineal glands healthy and reducing the risk of hormonal imbalance.
- It helps in improving your concentration and focus. This enhances your creativity.
- Inducing self-realization, helps you realize your full potential and achieve your personal and professional objectives.