So now let’s discuss these four basic yoga systems. Of course, today there are so many yogas. Maybe you have heard of some of them. There is Kriya yoga, Agni yoga, Raja yoga, Hatha yoga, Bikram yoga, Ayinga yoga, Sahaja yoga, on and on. Every day there is a new one… No, there are no new yogas. Yoga is eternal. It is just people putting names on it and commercializing it.
Really there are four basic yoga paths. They are known as Gyana yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Karma yoga and Bhakti yoga. So we are going to look at each one of these yoga paths and just try to understand a little bit about each one.
The first one we will talk about is Gyana yoga. Probably you have never even heard of this one. It is not very well known in the West. But it is very valid path of yoga. The word ‘gyana’ means ‘knowledge’. And the gyana yogi is trying to achieve liberation through acquiring knowledge.
And of course, the perfect candidate for gyana yogi is a person who has started to see the reality of the material world. Often times we don’t see the world as it really is. There is a veil of illusion that covers our vision. But the gyana yogi begins to understand that, “This world is really not the best place for me to be.” He sees, “Oh, there is so much pain and suffering here. There is so much difficulty. Everything is so temporary. I am trying to find some permanent place and it is just temporary, everything changes all the time. I am trying to find a perfect relationship, I can’t do that,” and on and on. He begins to question life. He begins to ask, “Who am I anyway? What is this all about?”
So he realizes that one of the big problems he is having is his body. Certainly the body causes us a lot of problems. It takes a lot of effort to maintain it, it gets sick, it gets old, it dies… You see, so many problems, aches and pains. And so he says, “Is this really who I am? Is this me?” His technique is called empirical speculative knowledge. He begins to analyze everything. So he looks at each part of his body and asks a question, “Is this me?”
For instance, he looks at his foot, “Am I the foot?” And, of course, “No, I am not the foot. Am I the leg? No, I am not the leg. Am I the hand? No, I am not the hand.” And on and on. The ear, the nose, the eye, the hair, all of it, whatever… Each time, “No, I am not that. I can lose my feet, I can lose my arms, I can lose my ear – I am still me.” And finally he correctly concludes, “No, I am not this body. This is really not who I am.” Very good, that is true.
Then he realizes he has got another problem – his mind. His mind causes him a lot of difficulty. We all know about that. So he wonders, “Is this who I am? Is this really me?” And he engages in the meditation which is called the silent witness technique where he silently watches his mind. He watches his thoughts like he is watching a movie. He can change his mind. He can move his mind from one place to another. In other words, he begins to separate himself from the mind. You can try this, it is a real nice meditation. And you can understand after some time, “I am not the mind, I am separate, I am different from the mind.”
Then he still has the question ‘Who am I?’ So he begins to understand he is eternal. We experience our eternal nature. If we think about it, we can experience our eternal nature. Right now there are many of us here who are in older bodies, certainly not youth (that passed a few years ago). All of us, no matter how old our body is, feel the same age as we did when we were youth. When I am looking out, I am looking out as a youth looks out. But when people look at us, they don’t see youth. We don’t get old because we are spirit soul.
So the gyana yogi begins to understand all these things. And he does the meditation called Aham Brahmasmi, “I am Brahman, I am spirit.” And finally he comes to the full realization, “I am spirit, I am not matter.” And again, this is true, correct.
Remember his original desire was to be liberated free of all these difficulties. He wants the place that is perfect, that doesn’t have these problems. So he begins to speculate what that place would be like. Number one, it would be eternal, it wouldn’t be temporary. Number two, there would be no forms. Because he realizes, “In this world there are so many forms. And one way or another it causes me problems,” so he wants a place with no forms. He wants a place where there are no relationships, no other people because he is dealing with people all the time and that is always a problem. He just wants to get away from everybody. So the perfect place would have no people. And then he even wants to get away from his own individual identity. He realizes just being an individual is a problem, he has to deal with himself, “I want this. I need this. I am unhappy. I am lonely. I don’t even want to be me. I just want to merge into oneness, so I can just be one with everything.”
There is a perfect place for this person. This is the brahmajyoti, the ocean of light. The soul can actually merge into this ocean of light, become a little particle of this light, just like the sunshine is made up of tiny particles of sunshine. And so this is the destination for the gyana yogi. He can actually merge into this ocean of light and lose all consciousness of his individuality. There are no bodies, there are no forms, there is no awareness. So there one realizes his eternal nature. So this is the destination of gyana yogi. It is called impersonal realization. And really most of the yoga taught today, this is the goal.
One mistake they often make. They rightly conclude, “I am spirit.” And they understand that God is spirit. Therefore they conclude, “I am God. I can become God.” So in their perfected state they assume they become God. Of course, this is not true, but it is the illusion that still exists there.
So anyway, that is a big topic but that is Gyana yoga.