Posted something in a Facebook group and received this comment, which I really love. Asked for permission from Nathan Hemingway, the author of it, to edit and post. So this is his comment with some slight editing. 🙏 Thanks again to Nathan for the opportunity to share his knowledge.
“This is tangentially related, but in at least some schools of Hindu thought, there are four types of yoga. Not the western version of yoga as a form of exercise, but four different paths of transcending the ego and discerning truth. Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, Jnana yoga, and Raja yoga.
This is my very loose translation, but Karma yoga is a path of action, e.g. Mother Teresa; Bhakti yoga is the path of the heart, e.g. the Christian passion of Christ; Jnana yoga is the path of the intellect, e.g. Buddhist philosophy and self-inquiry, Theravada, and maybe Benedictine practice, and Raja yoga is the path of observational practice, e.g. meditation and mindfulness, also Theravada, and especially Zen.
Again, very loose interpretation, but I’ve always seen this as a framework that encompasses the world religions and non-religious paths to self-realization. The core idea being that these are four different ways of transcending the delusion of your own sense of small, separate self.
The first is body, or action. The idea is that if you give sufficiently of yourself, then eventually you squeeze out any remaining room for self-aggrandizing. This is the path of loving and giving to others. There are plenty of examples of this across all traditions. I always thought Thich Nhat Hanh puts it really well in his analogy of two hands. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s worth a read. From an enneagram perspective, I’d expect this path might hold a natural draw for body-based types… especially 1s and 8s who are more directly attached to their action-oriented nature.
The second path is the heart. The idea is that by loving something outside of yourself, there’s no room left for your ego, e.g. the parent that dies (metaphorically) of their own self love in order to transcend the self and love their child. Depending on the flavor of Christianity, this is a very Christian story. God who gave up his only son; Christ that suffered and died; God who is divine love personified.
The third path is the mind. It’s the idea that by looking hard enough; challenging what we think we know; simply observing/noting what is, we can peer into the truth. Theravada and some forms of Hinduism, like Advaita, really embody this. If you’re completely anti-religion and anti-“spiritual” and seek truth through science, philosophy, physics, psychology, and so on, this is you too. The idea is that if you intellectually tear down the illusion of your own ego, then you have no choice but to build back up with the simple truth of what remains.
The last path is practice or observation. IMO, this is closer to the core of Buddhism, but the previous one holds a strong draw for intellectual types. The idea of this path is that direct confrontation with repeated experience of truth is undeniable, especially when said truth is “realer than real.” This is Buddhist meditation, mindfulness, contemplative Christianity, any path of mysticism, and secular meditation. Anything that ultimately presents us with an experience that challenges how we perceive ourself.
I’m probably butchering this a bit, but I’ve always really appreciated this as a framework for considering self-realization, psychology, and how different people find their way in entirely different paths. If nothing else, you can match it up to the enneagram and see how heart/mind/body are three different ways of transcending the ego. The fourth that this adds over enneagram groupings is something loosely akin to “experience,” which can touch in all three of the former. Even within any major religion (or lack thereof), you can find major sub-groups who follow each of those paths, and within those sub-groups, examples of individuals who seem to have transcended the “small, individual self.””