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The Path of Spiritual Insight

by Swami Sivananda

Jnana Yoga is the path of knowledge. Moksha is attained through Knowledge of Brahman. Release is achieved through realisation of the identity of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul or Brahman. The cause for bondage and suffering is Avidya or ignorance. The little Jiva foolishly imagines, on account of ignorance, that he is separate from Brahman. Avidya acts as a veil or screen and prevents the Jiva from knowing his real, divine nature. Knowledge of Brahman or Brahma-Jnana removes this veil and makes the Jiva rest in his own Sat-Chit-Ananda Svarupa (Essential Nature as Existence-Consciousness-Bliss Absolute).

SPIRITUAL INSIGHT AND INTELLECTUAL KNOWLEDGE

The Jnana-Yogin realises that Brahman is the Life of his life, the Soul of his soul. He feels and knows that God is his own Self. He realises that he is one with the Eternal through spiritual insight or intuition, Aparoksha Anubhuti or divine perception, but not through mere study of books or dogmas or theories. Religion is realisation for him now. It is not mere talk. He plunges himself in the deep recesses of his heart through constant and intense meditation—Nididhyasana—and gets the wonderful pearl of Atman, a wonderful treasure much more valuable than all the wealth of the world.

Jnana is not mere intellectual knowledge. It is not hearing or acknowledging. It is not mere intellectual assent. It is direct realisation of oneness or unity with the Supreme Being. It is Para Vidya. Intellectual conviction alone will not lead you to Brahma-Jnana (Knowledge of the Absolute).

The student of Jnana Yoga first equips himself with four means, viz., discrimination (Viveka), dispassion (Vairagya), the sixfold virtues (Shat-Sampat)—viz., tranquillity (Sama), restraint (Dama), satiety or renunciation (Uparati), endurance (Titiksha), faith (Sraddha) and concentration (Samadhana)—and strong yearning for liberation (Mumukshutva). Then he hears the scriptures by sitting at the lotus-feet of a Guru, who is not only learned in the sacred scriptures (Srotriya), but is also one who is himself well-established in Brahman (Brahma-Nishtha). Afterwards, the student practises reflection, which completely dispels all doubts. Then he practises deep meditation on Brahman and attains Brahma-Sakshatkara. He becomes a Jivanmukta or liberated sage. He is released even while he is in this body.

There are seven stages of Jnana or Knowledge: viz.; Aspiration for the Right (Subhechha), Philosophical enquiry (Vicharana), Subtlety of mind (Tanumanasi), Attainment of Light (Sattvapatti), Inner Detachment (Asamsakti), Spiritual Vision (Padarthabhavana) and Supreme Freedom (Turiya).

THE ANALOGY OF THE TWO BIRDS

There are two birds on the same tree. One is perched at the top and the other below. The bird which is sitting on the top is perfectly serene, silent and majestic at all times. It is ever blissful. The other bird, which is perching on the lower branches, eats the sweet and bitter fruits by turns. It dances in joy sometimes. It is miserable at other times. It rejoices now and weeps after some time. Sometimes it tastes an extremely bitter fruit and gets disgusted. It looks up and beholds the other wonderful bird with golden plumage which is ever blissful. It also wishes to become like the bird with golden plumage, but soon forgets everything. Again it begins to eat the sweet and bitter fruits. It eats another fruit that is exceedingly bitter and feels very miserable. It again tries to become like the upper bird. Gradually, it abandons eating the fruits, and becomes serene and blissful like the upper bird. The upper bird is God or Brahman. The lower bird is Jiva or the individual soul who reaps the fruits of his Karmas, viz., pleasure and pain. He gets knocks and blows in the battle of life. He rises up and again falls down as the senses drag him down. Gradually he develops Vairagya (dispassion) and discrimination, turns his mind towards God, practises meditation, attains Self-realisation and enjoys the eternal bliss of Brahman.

 

It again tries to become like the upper bird. Gradually, it abandons eating the fruits, and becomes serene and blissful like the upper bird. The upper bird is God or Brahman. The lower bird is Jiva or the individual soul who reaps the fruits of his Karmas, viz., pleasure and pain. He gets knocks and blows in the battle of life. He rises up and again falls down as the senses drag him down. Gradually he develops Vairagya (dispassion) and discrimination, turns his mind towards God, practises meditation, attains Self-realisation and enjoys the eternal bliss of Brahman.


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