Jnana Yoga, as you probably know if you are reading this page, is the yoga of the "path of knowledge." It involves studying the philosophy of advaita, or non-duality — that is, the philosophy of learning, at a deep internal level, that "all is one." This is what some Christians call "Christ Consciousness," and others might call "merging with the all-that-is, or "connecting oneself to the underlying ground of being." In yogic practice it's often called advaita or non-dualism.
If you don't already know what Raja Yoga and Hatha Yoga are — and that's fine, since most of my workshops are great for total beginners with no experience in music, meditation, or yoga — please read those pages first.
An Analytical Kind of Guy
I tend to be an analytical kind of guy. So when (on January 30, 1985, 8:01 pm) I got my first glimpse of the true nature of my mind, I wanted to study what other people had to say about such things. While working one-on-one with Jack Kornfield, I attended lectures and workshops given by well-known figures in the field of non-dualistic mindfulness such as Sri Nome, Ruth Denison, and Ramesh Balsekar (while, of course, attending Jack's "Monday Night Mindfulness" lectures as well. I read books by Barth, Hamilton, Altizer, Huxley, Leary, Da Free John, Wilbur, and a host of others. Then I found my "go to guy" for the subject.
From my in-person work and book work with the great Poet/Hippie/Death and Dying Guru/Philosopher Steven Levine (and his lovely, deep wife Ondrea, who was one of the first people to encourage me to use my harmonica/mindfulness program in the service of those who are dying and grieving, or working with people who are), I discovered the philosopher Sri Nisargadatta.
A teacher of non-duality in Bombay, Sri Nisargatta (1897 - 1981) lived a simple life as the local equivalent of a tiny convenience store owner, while simultaneously holding classes for his fans and devotees in his home. These took the form of question and answer sessions, many of which were recorded, transcribed, and translated. His answers are free from dogma, or adherence to any particular religion or sect or philosophy, other than investigation of the underlying nature of reality, and suggestions on how to perceive it.
Stephen suggested that I study the book "I Am That" (Chetana Publishing, 1973), which is a lengthy book of these transcriptions, translated by Nisargadatta's friend Maurice Frydman (whom many people believe was himself a guru — he lived with Mahatma Gandhi, and in fact created the spinning wheel that figures so large in Gandhi's legend).
Although there are many books of transcriptions of Nisargadatta, in my own humble opinion "I Am That" is by far the best and deepest. I read it as San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge is said to be painted, "Starting at the Frisco end, painting all the way to Marin, then by the time you're finished going back to Fort Point and starting the whole thing over again." It's not an easy read, an a single dialog (which might be from one to four pages long) can take many hours to read and study...
For an easier introduction to the subject, I recommend Stephen Levine's "Who Dies" (Anchor, 1982).
Jnana HarmonicaYoga™ Exercises
From my study of books like these, I've developed a set of what I think of as Jnana HarmonicaYoga™ exercises. When working with a group who is interested in this (admittedly somewhat arcane and difficult) subject, we investigate how progressively deepening the state of total immersion in free improvisation on the harmonica takes us from the Sixth Limb of the Ashtanga to the Eighth Limb.
Harmonica Dharana, Dhyana, and Perhaps Even, for a Second, Samadhi
Here's a short segment from an article (whole thing here) that I wrote for Kripalu's Online Journal. This part pertains to how I use harmonica to explore, or at least to try to explore, the non-dual state.
"...Harmonica-dharana (“concentration, one pointedness”) leads us to harmonica-dhyana (“single flow of ideas in the meditative state”) and then (with diligent practice, zeal, and love for the instrument) to harmonica-samadhi (which athletes might call “playing in the zone,” and blues musicians might call “playing from the gut”).
In this delightful state, only the music exists, and one can, for brief periods, overcome the obstacle of mind/memory, and even achieve, with luck and grace, an advaita (“non-dualistic”) awareness for a second or two. And fortunately, one doesn’t have to be an experienced player to reach these states. As one participant, after playing for only a few hours, put it, “Sometimes it feels as though the harmonica is playing me..."