One way to look at the path of yoga is to divide it into three separate aspects, or avenues of progress. Let’s take a look at that here and how we can apply this to our lives.
Watch my video on this topic here.
There are three avenues of progress on the path of yoga: karma (behavior), jnana (knowledge), and bhakti (devotion). Each of these gets its own chapter in the Bhagavad-gita, and together they comprise the basis of Krishna’s presentation.
Behavior covers a wide range of ideals and practices. Karma means “action,” in Sanskrit, but I am using the term behavior because the path of yoga gives us amazing insights into so many practical aspects of our life. The most basic are lifestyle choices. Then there are ethical and moral principles. Another major aspect is the concept of dharma and its application to our day-to-day lives.
Next we have jnana (knowledge, pronounced “gyana”), which refers to knowledge on two levels: the practical and the metaphysical – knowledge to help you deal with this world and knowledge to shape your spiritual path. I use the word wisdom in this regard, to emphasize that this is the kind of knowledge that will positively change how you react and deal with life. A large section of The 3T Path book is devoted to transmitting some of these key concepts, and you’ll see how they can effect enormous change in your life, in how you define your priorities and your identity. As knowledge strengthens your intelligence and you become wiser, you can, increasingly, guide your life based on rational, well-thought-out, sound decisions.
Lastly there is bhakti (devotion). As I mentioned in the introduction of The 3T Path, I can relate to those for whom the subject of devotion is distasteful at this point in his or her life. But one of the beauties of the 3T Path is that it’s not all or nothing. You can take what you can now and go with that. Every aspect of the path will help you in your transformation. And as we are transformed, our view of the world, of ourselves, of what we think is important, is also transformed.
It’s like growing up. The things we loved doing at age five are not the same as those we like doing as adults. And in terms of transforming your mind, simply reaching adulthood makes little difference. Age no longer matters. It’s all up to what effort you put into becoming a better, wiser person. As such, your views on God and devotion can change with new information and new experiences. This yoga tradition is the oldest in the world to address a single, transcendent supreme God, and it brings information on God and devotion to God that is quite different from what most of us brought up in predominantly Christian, Jewish, or Muslim countries have been exposed to.
Even better, because the yoga tradition values good sense, intelligence, philosophy, and rationality, and rejects sectarianism and coercive religiosity, the way it presents and explains God and devotion is more compatible with a modern mindset. Even if you’ve never felt devotion to God, you may have cultivated devotion to a cause or project and thus have experienced or witnessed how devotion can be a powerful force. It’s powerful because it’s an expression of your love. Devotion can motivate you like nothing else. It can help you overcome hurdles, encourage you when you are down, and bring out the most of what you have to offer.
Devotion is thus the most powerful tool you have for transformation. In the path of yoga, it’s given the highest importance and repeatedly shown to be necessary to maximize your full potential. And ultimately, when it comes to spiritual liberation and enlightenment, it is meaningless to speak of yoga, or connection, without addressing the love of the individual for God, as no other connection is more important than love.
Advancement in one avenue strengthens your ability to advance in another. As we improve the quality of our life choices and habits, our mind becomes clearer and more focused. And a clearer, more focused mind is better able to absorb knowledge and more proficient in seeing and understanding the big picture. More knowledge, in turn, helps you become wiser and thus improves your reactions and choices in life.
More knowledge will also bring you more information about God and the soul and thus strengthen and support your devotion. Better behavior also becomes a means to develop and strengthen your spiritual life. At the same time, devotion will inspire you to do better, to be a better person – to improve your behavior. Devotion also brings a natural intuition, making you wiser. And so on. The result is clear: any effort on your part to advance in any one of these avenues will bring about increasing well-being and facilitate further advancement along the path. Putting in effort on all three every day will bring about great positive changes in your life.
In a graphic presentation of the three avenues of perfection, your state of consciousness is represented by a triangle in the middle. The triangle is formed by the degree of advancement in each of the three avenues. The higher the state of consciousness, the better you feel. Practically speaking, happiness is the gauge of advancement. The more you work on yourself, the more you experience bliss—ananda in Sanskrit. The more disturbed and dark your consciousness, the more you experience suffering—klesa in Sanskrit. Note that the three avenues meet up at the top. Essentially, perfect knowledge requires perfect behavior, which requires perfect loving devotion. At the top is prema, a Sanskrit word used to denote pure spiritual love, the final and most perfect state of existence.
In the book, The 3T Path (http://3tpath.com/books/), you’ll see how the whole path of yoga unfolds and how to practice it in your life.
Look what they’re saying about The 3T Path book: “I have read the 3T Path book and I really recommend it to everyone, for me it is a must, I keep reading it continuously” – Wendal