Lesson 28 | Jnana Yoga | Part 1

Day after day the creatures die, yet those alive seek eternal life.

Even as a frog well within the mouth of a serpent flings to catch a fly, likewise all of us lying within the jaws of death seek enjoyment in sensual pleasure.

Mahabharata

 

Topic 1 | Jnana Yoga

Jnana yoga is usually defined as the path of knowledge, the Sanskrit word jnana meaning ‘knowledge’. However, jnana does not mean intellectual or logically deductive knowledge; it means intuitive, illuminative knowledge, [nana yoga is the method of union through intuitive flashes. The truth is realized through insight. Jnana is the result. The path of jnana yoga can be defined as the path of enquiry. From intense enquiry comes intuitive knowledge -jnana.

It is often said that jnana yoga is the most difficult path but this is not really true. It is only difficult if it does not suit your personality. If it suits you then it comes naturally – you will take to it like a fish to water. Certainly it is true that jnana yoga is the path for the few, for it requires strong willpower and the overwhelming need to find an answer. A person has to lose and absorb himself completely in his enquiry in order to obtain the required results and answers. Most people have so many distractions that they cannot engross themselves completely in the enquiry. Jnana yoga requires obstinacy .. . in fact, an obsession to find out answers. If you have this obsessive need for answers then jnana yoga will come spontaneously.

Jnana yoga requires that you throw out all concepts, dogmas, ideas that you don’t know to be true from personal experience. Throw them out . . . believe nothing. Of course, this does not apply to all things. If someone tells you that a scorpion will bite you, then believe them. There is no need to test their statement through personal experience. Accept this type of idea for it is not of great significance in your life. Whether the statement is true or untrue is not really so important, unless it bites you of course and then it will be too late. If someone tells you that the food which you eat is digested in a long fleshy tube called the intestines and also shows you a diagram to confirm the statement, then accept it. You need not dissect a human body yourself to find out – thousands of other people have already done so. Accept this fact and accept numerous other statements that are part of everyday life. If someone tells you that certain plants are poisonous, why test them? Accept the fact – it makes life easier. Most things in life have to be accepted on face value.

But if someone tells you that you are divine, that there is something more than body and individual mind or that there is such a thing as mystical experience, why believe them? In fact, the path of jnana yoga says that you have to reject all these concepts unless you have experience to the contrary. All concepts of God, deities, etc. have to be thrown out. This is the starting point of jnana yoga: ACCEPT NOT, BELIEVE NOT. The path of bhakti is different; it tells you to believe and if this belief is strong enough then it will take you to a point beyond belief. Jnana yoga will take you to the same knowledge that is beyond blind acceptance and belief. The two paths are different, but they lead to the same realization and knowledge.

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