Last Updated: April 13, 2016

Definition - What does Gnosis mean?

Gnosis is a term of Greek origin and refers to the knowledge gained out of one's own experience. It is ancient knowledge -- the root from which every form of philosophy and religion that existed (and still exists) emerged.

Unlike the general concept of knowledge, which denotes the intelligence one naturally inherits from existing concepts and beliefs that have been passed down through generations, gnosis refers to the knowledge acquired from one's personal experience. Gnosis is more concerned with spiritual experiences that lead to understanding the self and enlightenment.

The Sanskrit term, gnana (or jnana), shares the same meaning as gnosis. According to yogic philosophy, gnana refers to spiritual experiences and enlightenment, which lead to liberation (moksha).

Yogapedia explains Gnosis

Though the word is of Greek origin, gnosis is universal in the sense that the concept is shared by faiths across the world. All religions of the world highlight the importance of the consciousness and experiences which help humans understand the purpose of life. Gnosis emphasizes the importance of coming out of delusions to understand reality and acknowledge the truth, which leads to wisdom and fills the mind with compassion for others and their own experiences.

The purpose of gnosis is to develop emotional stability so that the mind can be transformed into a disciplined one, thus leading to inner peace. The ultimate aim is to transform the world and let harmony prevail so that the world is beautiful and meaningful.

Practicing yoga is one way of opening the self to spiritual experiences. Meditation can help practitioners contemplate and work through their experiences, gleaning knowledge from them to increase their understanding of themselves and the world around them.

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