Integrating the Three Paths of Yoga

September 20, 2012

Hari Om!

Om Sri Chinmaya Satgurave Namah

I’d like to start my blog section by addressing a Vedanta topic that is close to my heart. Over the course of time I will write from diverse sections of Vedanta philosophy – the pragmatic, the mystical, scriptural and other aspects; but for now, I want to say . . .

“Jeevasya tattva jignyasa, nartho yascheha karmabhihi”

-Sri Bhagvatam 1. 2.10

The purpose of life is to seek the truth, not to do many karmas or actions.

One of the meanings of the core word ‘ tattava’ in the above Sanskrit quote is – truth.

The ultimate aim in our life is to discover one’s true self – the seat of bliss and happiness – and operate from there in this world.

To go deeper into the path of knowledge or gyan yoga is to understand that whatever we know that is physical or emotional, technical called a– gyenya vastu (known object) is not separate from Paramatma or the Absolute Self.

As my beloved guru, Swami Chinmayanandaji puts it in one of His commentaries, “[It is] the constant attempt to see through experiencing names and forms, the expression and the vitality of the one Conscious Principle – the Self.”

That which holds everything together is the witness or sakshi. It illumines everything and needs nothing to illumine it. In ignorance or avidya, we superimpose everything on it. We see what is merely an appearance as the whole truth, the reality.

Through logic and heart warming words, the sruti or universal scriptures of Vedanta indicate this state of truth, urging us to make it our own experience. It is not dry knowledge.

Once we ‘know’ this, even intellectually, it permeates into our emotional body.

In the light of this knowledge that everything is One, a person can start developing love for this Truth or Brahman, as it is referred to in Vedanta. This love is called bhakti yoga or the path of devotion. It brings peace to us and starts purifying our heart – which really means that we feel less stressed and more at peace with ourselves, and the world. This bhakti as it becomes part of our life and interaction with the world, leads to a greater understanding of the Self and eventually gives us the true knowledge of our own true nature.

In everyday life, as bhakti seeps into our attitude, we begin to understand that Consciousness or God is the unchanging factor in our life, and can fulfill us, as no other thing in the world can!

The next step is that our outlook changes towards all the actions we perform. This is karma yoga or the path of action. Are we engaging in action merely for the ego or our selfishness or for God? Everything becomes an offering to Consciousness. As we act in this way it contributes to our inner purification. Then the words of the scripture take root within us with ease. Great masters who have achieved perfection also live a life of selfless action, however they do the action not for their inner purification, but for lokahitam or social welfare.

As we proceed on our path of life, may this knowledge translate into our day-to-day actions, may our life be a testimony to the great yogis and masters who have embodied this truth and walked the path in love and service to bless others!

“A deep, wise, and wonderful exploration of the Vedanta path for relationships both with yourself and with others. Shubhraji provides everything you need to create healthy, fulfilling relationships…”

— Arielle Ford. Author of Wabi Sabi Love and The Soulmate Secret
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