A selection on Jnana and the Jnani, from Perspective on Yoga, a new book to be published later this year.
The perfected jnani has gone beyond the need for the discursive, thinking, sensory-based mind (manas). Further, as Sri Ramana Maharshi frequently pointed out, through diligent tapasya the jnani’s mind has become transmuted into the Self and literally no longer exists in its old form. Rather, the mind has become, or resolved back into, the Chidakasha, the Etheric Consciousness, which both reflects and is the Self.
This is the highest meaning of the definition of yoga: chittavritinirodha: there are no longer waves (vrittis) in the mind-substance (chitta) because it has ceased to exist and is now the Chidakasha itself.
The perspective of a Jnani
Here are some traits of a true jnani:
- A jnani cares nothing for what the world considers knowledge and wisdom, but discards it totally, for to him it is nonsense and without true reason. What is considered logic he sometimes sees as craziness.
- He does not have the values of the world, but considers just about everything in it equally valueless. He neither honors nor dishonors anything, and ultimately sees all as one.
- He sees the body for what it is: an instrument subject to aging, disease, decay, and death. But mostly he ignores it except for its minimal needs.
- He is always centered in awareness of the Self, and sees all things in relation to the Self–in the context of the Self.
- He ever dwells in non-dual consciousness, untainted by duality in any form.
- When needed, the jnani can function perfectly in the world in an extremely practical manner, even accomplishing astonishing things for the benefit of others. He can, if he will, communicate with even the ignorant on a level they can comprehend. On occasion he is seen to be brilliant beyond human genius, and possessed of vast worldly knowledge without ever studying anything.
- The body of a jnani is always in a state of at least peripheral samadhi, and the forces within it are always oriented upward and manifesting his illumined consciousness. That is why the touch of his body can awaken others.
What about the “worldly-wise”?
A jnani cares nothing about being sophisticated and worldly-wise, aware that “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (I Corinthians 3:19). In The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, the motion picture, when the Baron is told by a snitty little bureaucrat that he has a very poor grasp on reality, the Baron replies: “As for what you call reality, I am glad to say I have no grasp of it at all.”
In her poem, “The Preacher,” Emily Dickinson had this to say about a “liberal divine” of her day:
He preached upon “Breadth” till it argued him narrow–
The Broad are too broad to define.
And of “Truth” until it proclaimed him a Liar–
The Truth never flaunted a Sign–
Simplicity fled from his counterfeit presence
As Gold the Pyrites would shun–
What confusion would cover the innocent Jesus
To meet so enabled a Man!
Dwelling in unity, the jnani knows that duality is only a dream, and he lives accordingly, ignoring differences and often doing impossible things because he does not “know” they cannot be done.
A jnani is free of desire and therefore free of the “gimmies.” Those who try to tempt or win over a jnani with promises or gifts find themselves very disappointed.
When the darkness of ignorance has been transformed into the light of knowledge, then we are jnanis. It is liking extracting gold from ore. Until then it is just rock, but when it has been smelted, the shining metal appears. In the same way, tapasya in the form of meditation extracts the wisdom of the Self from the unrefined ore of our former ignorance.
- Jnana: A Yogi’s Guide to What It Is and What It Isn’t
- Bhakti: The Yogi’s Perspective, from “Perspectives on Yoga”