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Jnana Yoga


Jnana Yoga consists mostly of practices to quiet the mind. According to Sankaracharya, there are only three thoughts that can lead to happiness. The first is that Universal Energy (Brahman) is real, and that his nature is happiness. The second is that the world as we know it is just an appearance. Finally, Sankaracharya states that there is no difference between the Self (Atman) and Universal Energy. The Yogi carefully examines her thoughts and their nature, dismissing any thoughts (vrittris) that do not lead to happiness. Furthermore, the Yogi recognizes his attachment to thoughts, and learns to let go of the desires behind them. By doing this, the Yogi does not produce any more Karma. He transcends the initial sense of separateness and duality and now only recognizes Universal Energy as reality, and dismisses the external world as a dream.
There are 7 stages of knowledge. It is important to know about these stages to understand our progress in the spiritual path, as well as be humbled by how far we still have to go.

1.    Longing for the Truth (Subecha)
At this stage, the Yogi is a practitioner (sadhaka) and is in the process of finding that there is Truth beyond the physical realm. At this stage, the Yogi’s spiritual practice is referred to as Sadhana Chatushtaya and consists of the following.
•    Discrimination (Viveka): The Yogi learns to recognize between the permanent and the impermanent.
•    Dispassion (Vairagya): The Yogi cultivates dislike for worldly pleasures. This practice consists of letting go of suffering.
•    Mastery over Organs (Shatsampat): The Yogi masters both the physical and mental organs. To achieve this one masters the six-fold virtues: control of the senses using calmness (sama) or repression based on strong will power (dama), developing an attitude of satiety (uparati) or endurance (titiksha), and finally faith (sraddha) or mental balance using concentration (sama dhana).
•    Yearning to be Free (Mumukshutva): The Yogi develops a strong desire to be free from non-spiritual desires, and from the wheel of birth and death (samsara)

2.    Right Inquiry (Vicharana)
At this stage, the Yogi reflects on what he has read or heard, and applies the teaching to her own life. For this, he practices hearing of scriptures or spiritual texts (sravana), intellectual reflection (manana) or meditation (nididhyasana).

3.    Attenuation of Mental Activities (Tanumasa)
     At this point, the Yogi lets go of the world of thoughts, and remains fixed on the One.

4.    Attainment of Purity (Sattvapati)
At this stage of knowledge, purity (sattva) is strongly cultivated. The Yogi is now known as the knower of Universal Energy (Brahmavid), who has transcended intellectual understanding and now has an intuitive knowledge.
Until this stage, the Yogi was subject to all the three types of karma, his contemplation included duality. Now, the Yogi was challenged with transcending psychic powers (siddhis). However, after surpassing this stage, the Yogi can’t fall anymore.

5.    Unaffected by Anything (Asamsakti)
At this point, the Yogi is known as the Bramavidvara. He now only does the duties out of his own will.He has destroyed the Agami and Sanchita Karma, but still has to work the Prarabdha Karma.

6.    Seeing Brahman Everywhere (Padarthahavana)
At this stage, almost all the Prarabdha Karma has been worked out. Now, external objects do not appear to exist, and the Yogi only acts when prompted by others. He is known as the Brahmavidvariya.

7.    Turiya
In this final stage, the Yogi is known as the Brahmavidvaristha. At this point, The Yogi experiences samadhi perpetually and doesn’t perform her duties neither by her will nor for others. The body can only remain for up to three days in this stage.