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Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Yogic Paths

In our discussion about bodhisattvas, Emma's comment for some reason got me thinking about the yogic paths. A beauty of Hinduism, according to some book I once read, is that it recognizes many approaches to spirituality. It even neatly divides these paths into several types. Here's what I remember about three of the paths, and here's a great link to more detail.

Bhakti yoga. The deity is envisioned a separate being outside of yourself to whom you send love and adoration and the ego is subjugated as one approaches the divine. This is the path of devotion. Christianity is an example of bhakti yoga.

Jnana yoga. One reaches the divine through a more intellectual, gnostic understanding. It is not a path of devotion, but rather a seeking to divine within, or unity with the all-present divine. If Hinduism recognized Buddhism as valid, it would probably place Buddhism in this category.

Karma yoga. The practice of selfless good deeds.

I'm getting sleepy, so I'll get to the point. When Christianity stopped working so well for me, I began exploring other religions, philosophies, and spiritualities. I read a passage describing the different yogas, and I immediately understood that the problem was I was better suited to a jnana path, and maybe a karmic path, but trying to follow a bhakti one.

The end.

P.S. I just remembered the connection with the bodhisattva story. The Green Tara practice is essentially a bhakti one, which is why I felt uncomfortable with it.


Blogger Emma Goldman said...

The funniest thing, though, is how similar some yoga bits are to buddhism. Not so surprising, of course, but the Fourfold Path and the Yoga Sutras say an awful lot of the same things.

12:45 PM  

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