Continuing our series on the four yogas, we introduce Jnana Yoga which is the path of higher knowledge. In this episode we explore:
・What is Jnana Yoga?
・What is the difference between lower and higher knowledge?
・The three steps to realization of the higher knowledge
・Recommended reading to start your path of higher knowledge
Watch the next Soul Session in this series on our YouTube Channel.
Debra Maldonado 00:01
Hello, everyone. Welcome to Soul Sessions. I’m Debra Berndt Maldonado.
Robert Maldonado 00:05
Welcome back. I’m Dr. Robert.
Debra Maldonado 00:06
And we are excited to continue our series on yoga philosophy.
Robert Maldonado 00:12
The four yogas. Really, we have Swami Vivekananda to thank for the concept of the four yogas. He’s got these incredible books on all the yogas. So if you’re interested in the topic and want to go deeper, his books are definitely recommended.
Debra Maldonado 00:35
Let’s do a little review. We talked about karma yoga.
Robert Maldonado 00:40
Karma Yoga is the idea of selfless action and a way of practicing the discipline of yoga to purify your mind, purify your karma essentially, that’s why it’s called Karma Yoga. You’re burning up your karma as you take action in the world.
Debra Maldonado 00:59
Robert Maldonado 01:10
In part. It’s also the conditioning that the environment has on us.
Debra Maldonado 01:17
Because we’re attached to the pleasure.
Robert Maldonado 01:18
So selflessness, or egolessness, I would say in this case, allows us to act in the world without incurring more karma. It also liberates us from conditioning. So it’s a beautiful way of working.It’s the most accessible to us in the West because we’re always acting like we’re into taking action. Everything is about acting, and I don’t think it’s realistic for us to think about sitting for 20 years in a cave.
Debra Maldonado 01:53
Or even meditating for four hours a day. Some people tell me they meditate for hours, I’m like, how do you get any work done? But the average person, we’re busy, we have our lives, we want to have love and success and all the things that life brings us. But karma yoga helps us take all those things and how we apply it in everyday life. Bhakti yoga is one of my favorites. But again, it’s not as practical as karma. It’s devotional.
Robert Maldonado 02:31
I think it’s the most familiar to people, especially in the West, we’re used to thinking in terms of devotion and belief, and the passion of the religious intention, as a way of developing your spirituality. But from the Vedic perspective, it’s only one of the schools, or one of the paths, and all these paths lead to the same place. But they start off in very different directions, where in karma yoga, you’re talking about selfless action, in bhakti, yoga, you’re talking about devotional service, developing a passion for the divine, and cultivating that activity.
Debra Maldonado 03:23
So prayer and dedication. A lot of religions teach bhakti yoga philosophy.
Robert Maldonado 03:32
Christianity has the pathos of strong passion. We talked about the image of Jesus having his heart on fire.
Debra Maldonado 03:44
Even Mother Mary, she has an image that we love and adore, we devote ourselves. In yoga, they talk about the Divine Mother in Vedanta, the Divine Mother is there. Also Earth is our mother. Hopefully most of you are into saving the planet and the environment, that is bhakti yoga, you’re loving the Divine in the world, you’re wanting to bring love into the world and care for animals and people. We talked about St. Francis, and he was also the patron saint of animals, and very devotional and loving.
Robert Maldonado 04:31
Of course, we want to position our talk, because we’re talking in terms of Jungian psychology. Jung’s model allows us to talk about a spiritual psychology without necessarily leaving the realm of philosophy.
Debra Maldonado 04:53
I find that so interesting because all through my personal growth journey since I was in my 20s I always had the spiritual work, then the psychology of attachment. A lot of my learning was compartmentalized. We hear a lot of our students say that, they get pieces here and there. The Jungian really puts it all together because it’s Jungian spiritual psychology, where we’re taking that beautiful understanding of the psyche, which actually means soul, and we’re bridging in that collective unconscious, which is that universal self, the bigger concept of who we are. We look at all the different philosophies, and Vedanta seems to have the cleanest interaction, or integration into the union. He read a lot of Vedanta, Eastern philosophy, and talked a lot about it in his work. So these go very well together.
Robert Maldonado 05:54
We also emphasize that we’re talking about the philosophy. So if there are Vedanta or Hindu practitioners, we hope you understand our talk in the right context, we’re not talking about the religion. It’s a different path. But we’re talking more about the philosophy and its relevance to how we live today.
Debra Maldonado 06:20
And even in Vedanta, there’s so many different schools of Vedanta too. Everyone has their path. But I think no matter what you read, a lot of it has the same undercurrent, they all read the Gita and the Vedas. There’s just different interpretations in the application. So let’s talk about one of my favorite. I think, Jnana Yoga has always been my favorite. I don’t know if it’s because I like to learn things intellectually, I don’t want to learn by doing, I want to figure it out for summary. Many of you are probably very self reflective and have that self inquiry, Jnana Yoga is perfect for that.
Robert Maldonado 07:03
Before we get into it, let’s put it in context. Because this knowledge that we’re going to be talking about, this higher knowledge was developed and expounded from a very different perspective than the way we see the universe now, especially in Western culture. Our paradigm, our worldview of the universe is materialistic, not in the negative sense — I mean Western culture. It’s materialistic in the sense that we consider the material to be real, whatever is matter to us. That’s what matters. That’s what we think is real. The evidence of the senses.
Debra Maldonado 07:57
Robert Maldonado 08:05
This knowledge really came about from a very different paradigm, very different perspective and worldview. It was the worldview of consciousness, that the universe is more of a big idea, not a big machine that’s made out of material. It’s more illusory, it arises in consciousness and appears to us as material, but it’s a very different way of perceiving the universe. If you want to understand jnana yoga, you have to adapt that perspective, so that you can understand what they meant by higher knowledge.
Debra Maldonado 08:53
What does jnana mean?
Robert Maldonado 08:56
So jnana is knowledge, or it can be translated as knowledge or wisdom, the discipline, because jnana yoga is an internal discipline of the mind. Some people translate it as logic or reason, but it is cultivating the understanding of what is the nature of our mind, and what is the nature of reality.
Debra Maldonado 09:21
When we practice Karma Yoga, or devotional yoga, the gyana yoga helps us understand why we’re doing it this way. And then, in effect, also studying the higher knowledge which a lot of people, that’s all they do. You talk to an academic, they’re always studying knowledge, but they don’t have that real life experience. You want to always bridge in that real life experience, but you can actually reach higher states of consciousness just by wrestling with your own mind and your own internal questioning of what is reality. I guess the question that gyana yoga answers is what is reality? Because you can practice devotion, you can act non-attached. But what is this reality that we’re actually interacting with? Who am I? What is this soup that we’re living in? That’s really what we need to know or it doesn’t make any sense. We’re just following what other people say — do this ritual and you’ll go to heaven one day, and you’re not really understanding what the mechanism is.
Robert Maldonado 10:36
In that respect, this is a very practical approach. Because if you don’t understand what you’re dealing with, or if you’re misperceiving what you’re dealing with, you’re going to waste a lot of time, which is impractical. Although a lot of this knowledge sounds very mystical and transcendent, it is very practical in that it gives you a good grounding on what is it that you’re dealing with when you say reality. What is it? What is it made out of? What is its nature? You’ve been reading Adi Shankara, who is really the main philosopher of Advaita Vedanta. And he talks about these two realities or two levels of reality.
Debra Maldonado 11:28
I like this idea because I’ve always heard from all the new age stuff I’ve learned over the years, our spiritual work, everything’s one and we’re one with everything, God is within us and all that stuff. How does that fit into I have these struggles in life, I’m alone, I’m trying to meet my partner and make it in the world and manifesting — how does this all go together. I love the two realities that we live in is that there’s the apparent reality and the absolute reality. The absolute reality is that oneness, the truth that the only reality is that we are the divine. But there is this apparent reality that we’re living in because we’re in what they call Maya, which is the physical manifestation of the world that we’re living in. This Maya creates these shifts in this body and the soul that encases our individual soul that we have our experience of life in. I always think of it as the foundation of what we can live from, like the blank screen of a movie, then the movie’s playing. Then the movie disappears but the blank screen is always there and constant. It’s like we’re living in a dream, it’s like a dream world. I know, it’s hard to say, especially when people have tough times, this isn’t a dream, it feels so real. But it feels so real just like when you have a dream. You’re running away from something, then you wake up and you’re like “That was just a dream.” The quality of this world that we live in is very similar, it’s an apparent reality. But we can’t deny that it doesn’t have any reality because we’re experiencing it. That’s the key, we’re experiencing something. But what we’re experiencing is not as real as we think it is. When we are in a dream, there’s a blackberry chasing us, or criminals trying to break into our house, and we’re shaking are worried. Then we wake up, it felt real to us. That’s what happens when we are in this body, when we’re not awakened. We believe the dream, then we get caught up in it and we get attached to it. We’re getting attached to what is the apparent reality versus the true reality. With that said, I do believe that there’s a reason why we have this apparent reality. It is to play with the dance of life. It’s to be able to have heartache, and pain, and sadness when someone passes, and joy when a baby’s born and all these beautiful emotional shifts, and tragedies, and adventures, and to be in this beautiful world with all the plants and animals. It’s just so rich, why would we want to be just the blank screen, we want to have this other experience. So for the enlightened person, they can live in the world with all the heartache and pain, but their mind is not so pulled into it, where they’re suffering all the time. The Buddhists say the world is suffering because we believe the dream is real. We could still play in both worlds. But the truth is that True Self can never be harmed, can never be broken, can never die, can never be born. There’s an eternal part of us, that gives us “I have this eternal part but I want to play in the world.” And that, I think, is the best combination because it’s not that we don’t care, or we think “This is all fake and not real.” There’s a real game going on. But it’s more of an experience and a journey, and we should enjoy it and experience it. It’s not always supposed to be bliss and happy. The duality is what gives us that experience. That’s a lot of words. But that’s my, Debbie Lama’s, interpretation of Adi Shankara. I love it because we remember that there always is that place where we can never fall. There’s no place to fall, the self you are immortal and unlimited. The beautiful thing that all these teachers tell you, but how do you live in the world and be that divine at the same time? That’s the challenge.
Robert Maldonado 16:15
The aim of this higher knowledge is really to liberate us. I know that in the West, we’re used to thinking of a philosophical understanding of life as a very serious and somber thing. But if you notice that playfulness can only really be understood, or experienced, if you understand that your life is more like a dream. It’s more illusory than we think. In other words, it’s not as solid as it appears to us.
Debra Maldonado 17:00
Even yesterday, if you think back, there’s a lot of things that happened yesterday. What do you remember about it? Little snippets, it’s fleeting, ever changing world that we’re in. That can’t be real because it doesn’t last. But there’s a part of you that remembers there was a yesterday. That’s what’s real.
Robert Maldonado 17:29
Let’s break it down to very simple observational things. We all experience the world of objects that we think of the world the way we see it. It’s a collection of objects. There’s a tree, there’s a car, there’s a house, there’s this desk. But in the perception of an object that gives rise to the I, or the sense of I, which we call the ego in psychology.
Debra Maldonado 18:03
It’s like subject and object, there’s always that kind of interaction.
Robert Maldonado 18:07
Yes, because if I look at that cup, then I assume there’s a me looking at something else. There’s that separation. The act of perceiving something gives me a sense that that thing, that object is separate from me, therefore there must be an I. But it’s an illusion.
Debra Maldonado 18:32
It’s like I have this body and this name and identity, so I must be real.
Robert Maldonado 18:39
Yes, but if you notice, in science, in the western model, the focus is on the object, not on the person, not on the perceiver. In basic science, the objective is to figure out what that object is made out of. All the focus most of physics goes into “Let’s break it down. Let’s reduce that cup to its basic elements and figure out what are the smallest components of that object. If we get to the very bottom of it, we’ll understand.” That’s the paradigm. In the Eastern perspective, that different paradigm, that different worldview, the question was not “What is that object made out of?” but “Who is the observer? Who is observing and what makes that observation possible?” So it’s a very different question.
Debra Maldonado 19:51
How does that observation impact me and what does it pull from me and why? What am I attached to? Is it beautiful? Is it repulsive? What is my relationship with that object? Not from “What is that object?” but “What is it doing to me?”
Robert Maldonado 20:09
The way they reasoned it was that if that object never appears outside of my awareness, for me to observe that object, that cup, I have to be aware of it. If I’m not aware of it, that object never appears. By pure logic, we’re saying that the observation, the awareness and the cup, are one and the same.
Debra Maldonado 20:44
There can’t be an object without a subject witnessing it. No one can see those cups here because it’s below the screen. So you’re not having a relationship with that object. But when you lift your cup up, they can see it.
Robert Maldonado 21:01
They started to think in terms of awareness, or consciousness, as being the foundational element in the universe, not material like we did in the West. We were looking for what is that object made out of. In the East they were looking for what makes that arising of the perception of the object possible. What is that element? And that element, of course, is awareness, what we call consciousness in the West.
Debra Maldonado 21:35
Versus that these objects are just there. Our awareness is observing them, we’re saying no, the object is there because we’re observing them. Isn’t that what they discovered in quantum physics? When they did a double slit experiment, they said, when no one’s watching, the energy are waves, the light beam is a wave, but when it’s observed, it becomes a particle. It’s an interaction with the observer and the object. The wave is undefined, just like pure consciousness, it’s just there. Then when we collapse onto it, we make it an object.
Robert Maldonado 22:18
We collapse it into its form. A lot of people take quantum mechanics now to indicate that science is reaching the same level of understanding as the Vedic knowledge. I don’t think it’s true because it’s still a different perspective, a different paradigm. They’re still looking for a formula to understand the existence of that object.
Debra Maldonado 22:51
They’re still thinking that the wave is object too. It’s just a different object.
Robert Maldonado 22:56
Another difference is that it’s still about an external understanding of the universe instead of a direct experience, which is what Jnana Yoga is about. Jnana Yoga is not about understanding it intellectually, and saying “I got the formula down.”
Debra Maldonado 23:19
I studied, I know about the three levels of awareness. I understand attachment and the theory behind it, now I can experience it. We talked about this the other day, when we first met, I had all the popular self help books by all the big names, I was reading, I was doing good. I mean, they made me feel good. It made sense to me, it was like “It makes me feel good. This is rational, this is easy.” But when I read Eastern philosophy, you gave me actually The Way of the Bodhisattva, you gave me the Gita. I was reading it and I was like “This is confusing.” That’s really where we know that we’re really going into another level of knowledge. There’s some good popular self help books out there but a lot of them, especially the industry, me trying to get published again, they want to water everything down. They want to make it instagrammy. You’re getting just the vanilla sugary coating that feels good to read versus that deep knowledge that you’re resistant to. That wrestling with the knowledge is that self inquiry saying “This doesn’t make any sense at all but let me go into it. Let me try to figure out what this is.” That’s where we get at something. It lights up something inside versus just smoothing the surface and reminding you what you already know. When you’re reading higher knowledge, you know it because you almost have to read it over maybe three or four times before you understand what they’re talking about versus something that you read and it’s like “That makes a lot of sense. It feels good.” You are not really having that critical thinking of “Let me go deeper into my core of understanding. Does that make sense?” Now I can’t read the popular books anymore. It’s kind of nice, like fun little spa treatment. It’s not that deep change like when I read the direct texts of the Gita, or I read Adi Shankara. That is really blowing my mind. That’s really what you want.
Robert Maldonado 25:52
We make a distinction between lower knowledge and higher knowledge. Lower knowledge is all that information we can process intellectually, all the facts about the world and the universe, E=mc2 or anything like that. It’s lower knowledge because it’s not teaching us or giving us a direct experience of that oneness of consciousness. It’s giving us information about what that cup is made out of again.
Debra Maldonado 26:22
Lower knowledge is understanding your pattern. I know why I’m fearful. This event happened to me, that’s why I have this feeling or emotion. That’s more a lower knowledge. It feels like higher knowledge for someone who’s on that journey. But there’s another level, and that level is “We understand how you got here because it makes sense. This happened to me, this is the result.” But the higher knowledge is “How do we escape that pattern of conditioning? How do we really free ourselves?”
Robert Maldonado 26:56
One of the definitions of higher knowledge is that it’s moving us towards the right understanding that the nature of our experiences awareness, it’s consciousness, that is the reality, and the only reality. Because if I say that cup is real, I can touch it, I can break it, I can do things with it, it’s only an apparent reality because it changes over time. It came into being, and there’ll be a point in time where it doesn’t exist anymore. So which part of it is the real if it’s always morphing and changing, which part of my saying is a reality?
Debra Maldonado 27:45
Even me, you met me almost 18 years ago now, I don’t even know, can’t keep track, 17 years. There’s nothing on me physically that’s the same. Are you in love with the Debbie that was 41? Are you in love with me that’s 50+. But there was so many iterations of yourself too as you go through stages of life. Who is the real you? You can even look at your life and see that this temporal body that you’re in changes and ages, it grows. I think about who I was when I was in my 20s. If I would run into someone that knew me back then, I’m a completely different person. The Debbie that they have in their mind is different than who I am right now. Then who is it? Is that their reality? We have to question because this world is always changing, and we’re always changing. What are we defining? What are we making that hard judgment?
Robert Maldonado 28:51
Which leads us to this idea of what is jnana yoga teaching? What is the practice of jnana yoga? It’s essentially saying that we create our own suffering by buying into the misinterpretation of things. If we believe the impermanent, the unreal is real, then we think the real, which is the awareness, is unreal. We doubt our own perception and awareness. We’re thinking that cup is more real than my awareness of it. In the Upanishads, it says “You mistake the real for the unreal, and the unreal for the real, that causes the suffering.” In very practical terms, we’ve worked as coaches for many years now, we see that people that give away their power to the external think when things line up for me out there, when I get the right job, when I get the right career, when I get the right money, all these external appearing of things, I’ll be happy. Practically, what’s going on there is the person is giving away their power to some external, ever mutating, ever changing reality. That is a mistake because you’re going to suffer, sooner or later those things are going to change, or those circumstances are going to continue to morph.
Debra Maldonado 30:25
They’re already suffering because they don’t think they have it yet.
Robert Maldonado 30:28
So when you base your reality, or your understanding on the real, which is the absolute reality, that awareness, consciousness is the absolute reality in every situation, then you’re no longer depending on those external circumstances to make you happy, to give you your sense of yourself and what’s true, and what’s real.
Debra Maldonado 30:56
Then you can consciously direct your destiny with non-attachment, all those things that they tell you that you can create your own reality, that comes after you understand the higher knowledge. But if you want to create your own reality but you believe still that finding that partner, making a million dollars, getting that book deal, having a successful business is gonna make you feel solid and calm and happy, then you’re really just chasing— you could acquire all those things, but it’ll never be enough. What I realized, especially with love, someone looking for a partner to make them happy, you’re giving your power to that person to make you happy, which is a heavy burden on the other person. But also, you would fear having them that good hold on you as well. An inner conflict is I’m giving this person power to make me happy. But then I don’t want to give that person power. Especially for women, we don’t want to give away all our power, but we do it. Then we’re in this conflict within ourself of “I want to be with someone but I don’t want to be with someone and then giving away my power to them.” The best way to find love or to be successful and abundant is to really understand the true nature of who you are. Let go of that attachment and not give that thing so much power. Then it’s easy, then you can enjoy it more, you can enjoy your relationship more. If I woke up every day going “I hope Rob doesn’t leave me, I hope Rob doesn’t leave me, I hope he still likes me”, and everything I did was all about propping you up and putting you on a pedestal, it wouldn’t matter if I have a partner, I would be miserable in that relationship. We’ve all been in those relationships that are up and down, one day it’s good, one day it’s bad. You’re like a puppet and the strings are being pulled from the external. You’re creating that dynamic yourself, it’s not out there. You’re creating your own suffering, which is really part of how we’ve been conditioned in the world early on, it’s not your fault. It’s just human nature, that’s how we’re conditioned to the world out there. We’re this helpless little being. But in midlife, that’s what Jung says, it’s time to individuate and remember and claim that we are the source. We’re not what happened to us, we can change and we can become who we are.
Robert Maldonado 33:28
Again, this is a very practical philosophy. It’s not just about philosophizing for the sake of thinking and expounding ideas. It’s a very practical approach to our human problems. If you misunderstand the nature of your mind and the nature of reality, you’re continuously creating your own suffering. If you think why are we in such dire circumstances right now, because collectively the human race has been moving towards this misunderstanding of the material world, thinking that the objects are going to make us happy, that things of the world are going to be stable and provide some kind of reassurance for us. It’s the other way around, the consciousness, our awareness is the absolute reality. When we understand that, we’re not putting that burden on external circumstances to make us happy.
Debra Maldonado 34:38
And these events of the world, especially the past year and a half of everything that’s been going on with the pandemic, it’s an opportunity for people to see how attached we were to the status quo, not even appreciating connection and spending time with each other, everyone’s looking at their phones, walking down the street. I hope that after this is all over, we go back to looking at each other again and valuing human connection, seeing what’s important in life. I think sometimes these things happen to put us back in balance, it is an opportunity for us to retrieve our little hooks into the world that pull us and keep us powerless, and bring us back. With that said, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have success and love, and all those things. But if you understand the higher knowledge, you can enjoy them more, it doesn’t define you, it becomes just an extension of your expression versus it’s my life raft. If this person comes in,, I got my little floatie now. This partner is gonna keep me afloat, or this money in this bank is gonna keep me afloat. No, you can swim in the ocean and be like “I’m not gonna sink. I love all this abundance and this love and these wonderful things are happening.”
Robert Maldonado 36:00
Remember, the Dalai Lama said the only the reason we suffer as human beings is because of our ego, or our over identification with the ego. This plays into that very nicely, because it’s saying, if you’re mistaking what you’re, you’re perceiving and you’re thinking there’s an I observing this and that is separate from that object, then you’re likely to mistreat that object. Now if you extend that into human relationships, again, we’re misunderstanding that. I’m connected to that other person, essentially we’re are the same awareness. But because they appear different to us, and if I identify with that difference, then I’m an ego, causing suffering not only to myself, but to that other person, to nature, to animals, to everything around me, because of that division, because of that misperception. So when we correct the misperception, then we’re able to act in real compassion, in real unity with people.
Debra Maldonado 37:10
So as we close up, what would be the way for people to practice jnana yoga? I definitely recommend Vivekananda’s book on jnana yoga, it’s really great. I read it like a million times. I love it, can read it over and over again. One of the stories in the book, can I share the story about the curly tail? Just to see his idea of this higher knowledge. There was this guy, he was hearing that people can have genies, and the genie will give them anything they wanted, this magical genie. So he went to the guru and said, “I’d like a genie”, and the Guru is like “No, you’re not ready for the genie. I don’t think you should. You don’t know what you’re asking.” He’s like “No, please, I want the genie.” They said “If you give him the genie, you’re gonna have to ask for things every day, or he’s going to eat you. He turns into a monster and tries to eat you.” The guy’s like “Oh, that’s no problem. I have plenty of things I want to ask the genie for.” The Guru is like “Here’s your Genie.” The genie is like “Okay, what do you want me to do?” The guy’s like “I want you to make me mayor of the city.” The genie makes him mayor of the city. He’s like “I want the most beautiful wife in the world.” He got the most beautiful wife in the world. “Now I want to be the king of the whole town.” He’s the king of the whole town. “I want the biggest palace in the world”, he has the biggest palace. He kept asking for all these things, and finally, he really did run out of material things to ask for. He was just “I don’t know what else to ask, I’ve everything material.” The genie is like “You better give me something or I’m gonna eat you because I need to do something.” He runs to the guru again, “Guru, you were right. He’s gonna eat me.” The guru is like “This is what you’re going to do, you’re going to find a dog with a curly tail, cut off its tail, and give it to the genie and ask the genie to straighten out that tail.” He gets it, gives it to the genie, says “I want you to straighten out the tail.” The genie is like “I have something to do.” He combs out the tail, pulls it all the way out, and then wooop — it flips up again, so the genie’s going on, then the genie was satisfied. It’s like the ego. It’s always looking for more, it unties things and then it curls up again. If you look at life, you solve one problem in your life, and then it curls up again. These material things aren’t going to solve that hunger, that ego desire. Understanding its nature, that the ego mind is never satisfied. You’re straightening one tail out, and it flips up again. It’s just the nature, we’re fooled to think that one day that tail’s just gonna be flat, and we won’t have any problems anymore. That’s not the case.
Robert Maldonado 40:28
Not only that, if you look at humanity, the way we act collectively, it’s not as a consumer. A lot of people think it’s a consumer society, we’re invested in doing these things. But that’s not it. We’re acting more as an addicted person. Very destructive, very consuming without measure, without consideration for other life forms.
Debra Maldonado 40:55
Cutting down forests, I heard, they dumped millions of gallons of DDT in the Pacific right here, outside our window and no one cares. Some people do
Robert Maldonado 41:10
People do care. But collectively, it appears that nobody understands how to stop that. Again, because we’re misinterpreting the nature of reality, we think the answer is out there somewhere, we have to make a law. But it’s about changing our understanding of the nature of reality. Jnana yoga addresses that in a beautiful way. It’s scientific, in the sense that we can test it, it’s not asking us to believe anything, to take some leap of faith, it’s saying “Observe the nature of objects, observe the nature of your mind, and you’ll find the answer through that.”
Debra Maldonado 41:55
What we need to do is how do we be in the world without pushing it away, without buying into it. One of the techniques we teach in our training is, working with the triggers and emotion. For you at home, one thing you could look at is when you’re hooked into something, a disappointment, or you’re anxious about something happening, or you’re worried, just sit with yourself and really ask yourself “What is this need? Why am I so hooked into it?” You’ll notice that it’s all about your ego, wanting to protect you or feeling like something terrible’s gonna happen, you’re gonna die if you don’t have it. Just trying that self inquiry is really a great way to start seeing that all the perceptions that you’re pouring into this event, and not buying into it. A great example would be, you get an email from a friend of yours, she’s writes something, and you’re triggered by what she wrote. Your mind is making up all this stuff about her. She is this terrible person, I can’t believe she would say this to me, maybe I shouldn’t be friends with her. You’re creating this whole imaginary world and this monster, this friend. Then when you talk to her, she’d be like “No, I forgot to put a comma after that word, I meant you’re great.” The person would take it as good as condescension. We’ve all done that, read the email wrong. That’s what the mind does, it creates this false reality. Remember that most of what we’re seeing, even as simple example, like that misunderstanding, but most of what we’re seeing is a false reality. We don’t want to deny the world because it’s an experience, we don’t want to deny our feelings because it’s an experience. We’re not denying terrible experiences that happened to us. It’s not about saying it never happened and it’s an illusion. But what we’re hanging on to in our mind, what it is a lot of times exactly exacerbating what really happened, exaggerating it in a way, or minimizing it too. We minimize things, it’s just the way the ego works. It has all these cognitive biases. That filter in the world in the jnana yoga, it talks a lot about that. Modern psychology finally came up with these cognitive biases and how we see the world through filters. But if we look at jnana yoga, we’re seeing even a deeper misperception of what the world is. So starting with just cognitive biases, saying this isn’t as real as I think it is, I am creating this terrible story and narrative that’s not even real.
Robert Maldonado 44:54
When we misunderstand what we’re perceiving, it has power over us. Essentially, it drives the mind, it seizes the mind and takes over us. When we understand what we’re perceiving, the nature of our perception, we’re able then to let it go if we need to, but also we’re able to act, meaning because we’re not caught up in it, because it’s not driving us, we’re able to act appropriately, in a much more detached or non-attached way. So that’s jnana yoga. It’s the practice of understanding reality in its true form, understanding that our awareness, our consciousness is much more powerful than external events, which allows us to act then appropriately, like a jnana yogi.
Debra Maldonado 45:49
I love that quote in the Upanishads where they say, there’s two birds sitting in a tree, one bird is eating the bitter and sweet fruits of life, while the other bird is watching in non-attachment. That’s what we want to have, we don’t want to get rid of the world, we don’t want to say “The world’s not real, it’s an illusion. I can go out murder people, and it won’t matter, or steal from people.” It’s not like that. We want to be able to be in the world of duality and joy, the ups and downs, enjoy the ride of life, and feeling our hidden true power. We can discover it again, it’s just been like a hero’s journey. But we also have that pure awareness, that witness that’s with us, that’s our true nature that we can always fall back into. I remember one of the scariest parts of my life, when we moved to New York, and I was starting over my business again. I was a hypnotherapist in Denver, and came here, you were working in the child center. We weren’t working together yet. I was really worried about if I can really be successful. And all sudden, I just fell back into this void of light. It’s like, this is who I really am. It gave me the strength to go back into the world and do my sacred duty, which is play in this world of duality. But knowing that there’s a safety net basically, it’s like being able to do all these tricks on the high wire, but know that there’s a safety net, there’s nowhere you can fall and be harmed or hurt. That invincibility that I think will make life exciting. Also, we don’t want to see the whole picture because we still want to play in the game, don’t you think? What I’m saying is, having it hidden a little bit gives us that ability to work with it.
Robert Maldonado 47:53
It is a personal choice. That’s the whole idea of this knowledge, it’s meant to liberate you, it’s not meant to restrict your actions or your power. It is a moving towards life, towards experience. It’s not about renouncing the world. It is about understanding its true nature. That way you can really interact with it in an appropriate way. There’s one yoga left that we still need to talk about, which is Raja Yoga, which is the royal road to the unconscious. Meditation. That’s coming up. And then we’re thinking of talking a little bit about Buddhism. A lot of the people that we work with are into mindfulness, into Buddhist techniques and meditations. So that might be coming up after this series.
Debra Maldonado 49:07
So we have one more in the series next week, we’ll talk about Raja Yoga, the path of meditation. But thank you so much, everyone, for joining us for another Soul Session. We will see you next week. In the meantime, embrace that higher knowledge. And remember that there’s nowhere to fall. That’s where I’m leaving you.
Robert Maldonado 49:32