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Truth Beyond DespairThe Path of Selfless ServiceThe Path of MeditationThe Path of DevotionThe Path of Wisdom

Bhagavad Gita/The Path of Wisdom

Meditation and Reading taken from The Bhagavad Gita, trans. Eknath Easwaran
All other text is by Cynthia Stewart

Today's Themes

Jnana yoga, the path of wisdom, is all about truth: uncovering it, recognizing it, and learning to live within it. Whereas in raja yoga, the path of meditation, the devotee tries to forge a way through the cloudiness of the mind to the Infinite, in jnana yoga he tries to use the mind to forge that same path: the intellect itself is used to strip away the trappings of maya so that the Infinite may be seen. The most basic practice of jnana yoga is the repeated asking of the question, “Who am I?” As the devotee works ever deeper into this question, she learns that she is something different than her body, something different than her mind, something different than her memories. This process of growing in spiritual wisdom leads ultimately to an understanding of the Self, the Atman, which is always at one with Brahman.

But this is not a singular wisdom that benefits only the one gaining it. As the Gita tells us in Chapter 5, those who are established in jnana, wisdom, have “equal regard for all. They see the same Self in a spiritual aspirant and an outcaste, in an elephant, a cow, and a dog…Healed of their sins and conflicts, working for the good of all beings, the holy sages attain nirvana in Brahman” (5.18, 25).

Words used in this session:
Arjuna – the warrior prince who must fight the army led by his cousins in order to establish his father’s right to the ancestral throne.
Brahman – the changeless Reality behind all of creation
jnana - (pronunciation varies; two of the most common are nya-nuh and ghee-an, with a hard “g”) wisdom; jnana yoga is the spiritual practice of study of sacred texts and meanings
Krishna – Arjuna’s charioteer who reveals himself later in the Gita as the Source of all creation
mantram – a repeated phrase or prayer

maya – illusion, but also the creative energy of Krishna that allows the primal unity to appear as multiplicity

Call To Worship

Come to this house of worship
     where we find truth in the spiritual wisdom passed down through many traditions.
Come to this house of sorrow
      where we let grief open our hearts to deeper compassion.
Come to this house of joy
      where we weave the thread of love into an ever widening and more inclusive fabric.
Come to this house of blessing
     where the interdependent web of our existence reveals that every face we see is the face of the One Reality.
With your worship and your sorrows and your joys, come and know that you are a blessing here today.


Good people come to worship me for different reasons. Some come to the spiritual life because of suffering, some in order to understand life; some come through a desire to achieve life’s purpose, and some come who are men and women of wisdom. Unwavering in devotion, always united with me, the man or woman of wisdom surpasses all the others…[T]he wise who are always established in union, for whom there is no higher goal than me, may be regarded as my very Self.

Chapter 7.16-18


[Those who] follow the path of jnana, spiritual wisdom…see that where there is One, that One is me; where there are many, all are me; they see my face everywhere.

I am the ritual and the sacrifice; I am true medicine and the mantram. I am the offering and the fire that consumes it, and he to whom it is offered. I am the father and mother of this universe, and its grandfather too; I am its entire support. I am the sum of all knowledge, the purifier, the syllable Om; I am the sacred scriptures…

I am the goal of life…the inner witness, the abode of all…the one true friend. I and the beginning, the staying, and the end of creation…

I am immortality and I am death; I am what is and what is not. 

Chapter 9.15-19


Let your footsteps fall lightly today, knowing that the ground you walk on is holy.
Let your touch fall gently today, knowing that the friend or stranger you touch is holy.
Let your eyes rest peacefully in the mirror today, knowing that the being you see is holy.

OM shanti shanti shanti