… there are many roads leading to the top of the mountain – once we’re up there we all have the same view.
Karma Yoga as the path of action teaches us to do our own duties skillfully and selflessly; dedicating the results of our actions to humanity. Practicing this kind of yoga helps us to be unselfishly and successfully in the world without being burdened or distressed. Many teachers agree that this is the most meaningful yoga for modern times. Generosity becomes a part of everything we do and is not relying on any object or person. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist Zen master, gives us the image of the left hand helping out the right when the right is injured. If we are washing dishes and think of others that do nothing we cannot enjoy washing the dishes. In that way Karma Yoga is a good practice of acceptance and getting beyond Raga Dvesha. As people that were mostly Karma Yogis we could name Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Terese.
Bhakti Yoga is the path of love and devotion is often said to be the easiest path of Yoga in this particular time of evolution. Bhakti Yogis use devotional practices such as chanting, mantra meditations and God visualisations to transform their emotions into pure devotion, open hearts and turn every action in life into an action of love, an offering to God. The path of the Hare Krishna group is mostly a Bhakti path of Yoga. Ramakrishna is an enlightened Yogi and guru who reached his high state of consciousness through devotion.
Jnana Yoga, or the Yoga of Knowledge involves intense mental discipline. Discrimination between the transient and the everlasting, the finite and the infinite through the intellect is the goal of this Yoga. Jnana Yoga is an extremely difficult path that is only mastered by a few. It involves questioning the Self, existence itself, the mind and its relations to every other thing in the universe. Krishnamurti or Ramana Maharishi are popular Jnana Yogis.
Raja Yoga is considered the royal path, the Yoga of the mind or of self-discipline and is a more integral and scientific approach to Yoga. It is believed that the mind needs first to be tamed in order to be purified. The indian God Siva is believed to have thought the art of Raja Yoga to Parvati, his beloved and feminine aspect. The spiritual teacher Swami Vishnudevananda is one example of a popular and accomplished Raja Yogi. (More on Raja Yoga following soon)