3. JNANA YOGA is the path of wisdom, understanding, discrimination and philosophy. It is the path, which few can follow. It requires a razor sharp mind that is always aware of the truth that we are not the contents of the mind, nor are we the body. Everything we see is just a temporary reality that is always changing and will soon pass.

The Jnana yogi gradually ceases to identify with his body, his emotions, and the contents of his mind. He begins to experience his Self as the WITNESS of all these changing phenomena, which are taking, place in his body, in his mind and around him. He practices non-attachment to any particular person or situation.

He loves, but is not attached to. His love is felt as the experience of unity with the other being, but not a need to possess the other being. There is a great difference between attachment and love. They are opposites. Real love can exist only when there is no attachment, no need for anything from the other, not even his presence. Only then can one love unconditionally.

The Jnana yogi seeks to experience the Truth. He has heard from others that there is a more permanent reality behind this world, in which all forms are sure to decay, die and disappear. His logic confirms to him, as Socrates' did so well, that this must be true. But now he wants to experience it. There is a great difference between hearing, believing and knowing by experience.

The Jnana yogi usually does not concentrate on Holy forms. He seeks to know the formless, the unmanifest God. He seeks to experience God as the basis of every being and object which exists in this world. He sees everyone and everything as simply a temporary projection of the one universal spirit.

The Jnana yogi constantly struggles against the tendency of the mind to identify with pleasures and pains and various emotional states which cause him to loose his awareness of the Truth - that he is an eternal consciousness which is independent of all this which is going on in his life. Life is a temporary drama in which he is playing a role for the time being, but the day will come when he will wake up, either through a spiritual awakening, or through the death of his physical body, and he will realize that all this was like a dream, that he is really not a man or woman, mother or father, artist, businessman, scientist, politician, wealthy or poor, but that he is a soul who was just temporarily playing these roles.

The path of Jnana yoga by itself is difficult, but the truths that it offers us are very useful in keeping a peaceful and clear mind for facing the various tests of life.

4. RAJA YOGA is the path of gradual control over one’s self through the development of discipline and will-power. It is a system that is useful to any one, even if he chooses to follow the other paths. It offers techniques for the harmonization and eventual mastery of the body, breath, emotions, senses and mind. Whatever we do in life, we do it with our body and our mind. So our efficiency in every action, in every effort is improved when the quality of the body and mind are improved and our control over them is increased.

Now, most of us have practically no control over our minds. We cannot relax, cannot concentrate, we cannot overcome obstacles such as tiredness, lack of energy, illness, negative reactions to heat and cold, emotional tensions, fear as well as our subconscious conditioning. Few people are masters of themselves and have control over their bodies, their mind, or their lives.

The Raja yogi gains control in a step by step process starting with the most material aspect of our existence, the body, and slowly working towards the more subtle, the mind. These are called the 8 steps of Raja Yoga. We will list them briefly here and then discuss them in detail later in the book.

a) CONTROL OF BEHAVIOR is recommended for the individual who wants to become the master of himself. The key to all individual and social harmony is to «do to others as we would like others to do to us, and not to do to others anything we would not like them to do to us». If a person follows this one recipe for life, then he will have inner peace. His mind will be at ease knowing that there is consistency between his beliefs, his words and his actions. Thus the following five requirements are asked of the Raja yogi:

1. Not to consciously harm any being, with his thoughts, words or deeds.

2. To always speak the truth.

3. Never to take anything which does not lawfully belong to him through his honest work.

4. Not to envy or feel jealousy for what others have, but to be happy for them.

5. Not to unnecessarily waste energy on sexual activity either mentally or physically.

b) DEVELOPMENT OF DISCIPLINE is the second requirement of this path. He is asked to discipline himself in the various ways:

1. The practice of various austerities and vows such as fasting, occasional silence, and in general the practice of a simple life without many unnecessary comforts, which weaken one’s body and mind.

2. To maintain purity of the body and mind.

3. To worship God daily in his chosen way.

4. To study the truth of himself both as a personality and as a soul, through self-observation, reading and discussion.

5. To practice contentment. To learn to be at peace with himself, accepting what life has given him and not to be greedy for more and more material possessions.

The first two steps of Raja Yoga remind us to a certain degree of the Ten Commandments. They are guidelines which are found in all spiritual paths and help to set a safe and stable foundation for the spiritual structure which we are about to build. If the foundation is not well formed we could have problems later as we begin to increase the energy and power flowing through our bodies and minds.

c) CONTROL OF THE BODY is then developed through the use of specific exercises, some dynamic and others static. Breath control and deep relaxation are also used in this stage so as to develop the strength of the nervous system and harmonize the endocrine system. This is very necessary in order to succeed in the advanced stages of mastery of the emotional and mental energies. These exercises and techniques are also used today for therapy. The goal here is to develop a healthy and strong body that will not obstruct us in our daily life or in our spiritual quest.

d) CONTROL OF THE BIOENERGY is then achieved through the mastery of certain advanced breathing techniques in conjunction with concentration on energy centers in the body. This produces an excellent state of health and vitality and facilitates the eventual control of the mind. The breath, bioenergy and mind are very much interconnected. These techniques are very useful for learning to master the emotions, but are also dangerous to be practiced without expert guidance.

e) DETACHMENT FROM THE SENSES is now necessary as the mind is usually at the mercy of the various sense inputs, which are bombarding the eyes, ears and other sense organs. One learns to disconnect the mind from the incoming sense messages and allow them to go directly into the
subconscious
without disturbing the conscious mind, so that one can concentrate on what one is doing. This frequently happens involuntarily as a result of intense concentration on some creative activity, i.e. painting, dancing, singing, playing music, gardening, knitting etc.

f) CONCENTRATION OF THE MIND ON A SINGLE POINT.

g) MEDITATION ON A CHOSEN OBJECT OF CONSCIOUSNESS.

h) ECSTASY OR UNION WITH THE OBJECT OF CONCENTRATION - GOD.

The first five steps are called outer yoga, because they have to do with the control of factors outside of the mind. The last three steps are called inner yoga, because they have to do with the control of the mind itself. These steps will be explained in much more detail later in this book.

Simplified, the last three steps have to do with learning to hold the mind on one object of concentration for a long time. Then one begins to experience deepening levels of that object until one experiences a oneness with that object. For example, we might start by concentrating on the name and form of Jesus the Christ. After some intense practice we will begin to feel Christ not as a man, with a form, but as an energy, as light, as a consciousness, as a vibration, as the Logos. In the final step we will lose our sense of self, our sense of individuality, separateness and there will be only the Christ consciousness. We will have then merged into unity with Christ.

Thus, we can see that yoga has something different to offer to each individual according to his own needs, desires and goals. It also seems apparent that it has much to offer to our society in terms of increasing the quality of health, mental peace, productivity, and the unity and harmony of the society as a whole. It seems only logical that such a system, modified to suit specific needs, could start to be introduced in schools, offices, acting and musical companies, scientific research center and various private and government organizations, as is already being done so to some extent in America, Europe and Australia.

Now that we understand that meditation is the seventh step of one of the four major paths of spiritual growth, let us go on to discuss in more detail what meditation is and how it can be used.

From the book "The Art of Meditation"
by Robert Elias Najemy

Author's Bio: 

Robert Elias Najemy, a life coach with 30 years of experience, is the author of over 20 books, 600 articles and 400 lectures on Human Harmony. Download wonderful ebooks, 100's of free articles, courses, and mp3 audio lectures at http://www.HolisticHarmony.com. Find 8 of his books at http://www.Amazon.com.