Jnana Yoga — The Way of the Mystic (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!)


Carl Jung as a young man. Carl Jung would be the exemplary Jnana yogi of modern times.

Jnana Yoga is the yoga of knowledge, the way of the mystic (4 Yogas Main). It is the yoga best suited to the reflective type of person.

The process of Jnana yoga is:

1. Research the theory of the soul.
2. Realize its truth by metaphor.
3. Identify with the soul, not the body. Be the witness — observe your Self as if from an impartial observer.

The theory of the soul.  In modern terms, one may benefit from learning dream interpretation and studying  Gestalt therapy.  Properly ‘psyche’ means ‘soul,’ and psychology therefore means the study of the soul.  Modern psychology that is framed in the terminology of hard science, considering consciousness to be an effect of chemical reactions in the brain, is less useful for these purposes.

Therefore you might read Carl Jung or study dream interpretation.  Dream interpretation is particularly useful here because it is the study of metaphor.

Carl Jung is a master of understanding dreams as parables, and sees them in the same light as myths.  They are part of the uncanny working of the human mind.

Why metaphor?  Metaphor is a kind of reverse dream interpretation.  Here you are using the same symbolic meaning encoding process to realize a teaching with your dreaming mind.

Identify with the soul.  The soul is that which radically survives death.   Hindus believe that the bodily spirit in some part and to some degree survives death, to become reincarnated as a new person.  But it is the nature of the bodily spirit to become embodied, and that comes along with inherent problems.  Things for embodied people don’t work out, or when they do work out it is by its nature temporary.

You are your soul.  The goal is to understand this at a deep, deep level.  You can think of the soul as a kind of escape capsule, which not everyone makes proper use of.  To make good use of your soul to escape death, climb into it early.  Realize that you are not your body.  Your body is just there to carry you around and to allow you to interact with the physical world.

To realize this early allows more of your Self, which at first will tend to be embodied, to be gathered up by that which truly transcends death when your physical body konks out.  It’s the difference between fleeing your home because it’s burning to the ground, versus being evicted, versus choosing to move out.

If you choose to move out, by working early to realize you are your soul, and figuring out what that means, you are not in a rush or being forced by circumstance to move, so you are much more prepared, more organized, and you get to keep more of what is of value to you in the transition.

What religious heritage you belong to does not matter too much.  Learn from people of your tradition who are deeply advanced — who are saints.  They tend to have certain characteristics in common:  they have deep faith; they are relentlessly kindhearted; they are not distracted by trivialities; they are utterly uncompromising in what they consider to be truly important; they are selfless. And that little story, by the way, is an example of realizing a truth by metaphor.

Outward forms may vary — some will be uncompromising about being vegetarian, while others will eat meat, according to the status of animal consciousness in their understanding.  For the record, deeply spiritual Hindus almost never eat meat.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Introducing the 4 Yogas of Hinduism Series « TiltedCandle

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