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Jnana Yoga

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Jnana Yoga

JNANA MEANS WISDOM or knowledge in Sanskrit. Jnana Yoga is a technique for seeking liberation in which identification with the real Self (rather than with the body or ego) is developed by a steady effort to discern or discriminate between pure awareness and the objects of awareness.

Jnana Yoga is closely associated with Advaita Vedanta. Vedanta is one of the six darshans or philosophies of Hinduism, and Advaita Vedanta is the school of thought within Vedanta which believes that everything in the universe shares a single soul, including you, me, and God.

The techniques of Jnana Yoga include:

  • Viveka. This means "discernment" or "discrimination" in English. This technique, associated especially with Shankara, involves a deliberate, continuous effort to understand that the real you -- the Self -- is something separate from the objects of which you are aware.
  • Neti-neti. This phrase means "not this, not this" in Sanskrit. You apply this formula mentally to all objects of awareness to destroy the false sense that they are you. When all the objects are banished, the real you -- the Self -- is what's left over.
  • Vicara. This word is usually translated as "self-inquiry," but it really means examination, reflection, or looking within. This technique, associated especially with Ramana Maharshi, involves a continuous, deliberate effort to become aware of the real you -- the Self.

Continue to Background: Advaita Vedanta

Or continue to Ascension: Selections from "Ascension"

Yoga Research and Education Center

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