10. Jnana yoga or the path of knowledge
Knowledge can also lead one to moksha. This is the favorite of the intellectuals.
As we have learned before, an intellectual understanding the theory that the self is the same with the universe, is not the same as moksha. One needs to experience it as a fact.
But the intellectual understanding can be a step toward moksha. It is a part of jnana yoga.
We cannot experience ourselves as the same with the universe because of avidya or ignorance.
We misidentify ourselves as our bodies, our thoughts, or our minds. But this is not accurate. This is not the complete picture of who we really are.
The ignorance can go away if one asks the question “Who am I” and pursues it carefully to where it leads to.
“Am I the body?”
Or “Am I the thoughts in my mind?”
Or “Am I the mind?”
A careful introspection would confirm that I am not any of these, not even the mind. But I am the pure consciousness or awareness behind it. The physical world is just an expression of it.
The practice of jnana yoga consists of three steps:
Listening: It starts by gaining the knowledge of the scriptures like Upanishad and Vedanta. Traditionally it was recited by the gurus and listened by the disciples.
Thinking: Just learning the scriptures by heart is not enough. One needs to contemplate on them, understand them, ask questions and clarify all doubts and confusions.
Meditating: When a clear grasp of the concepts is achieved, one needs to meditate on them. The meditation will ultimately lead to self realization.