Derived from the Sanskrit phrase Atma Jnana (आत्मा ज्ञान), which literally means "self-knowledge."
The achievement of perfect knowledge. This phrase is better stated as, “The realization of the Innermost Self,” or “The realization of the true nature of self.” At the ultimate level, this is the experiential, conscious knowledge of the Absolute, which is synonymous with Emptiness, Shunyata, or Non-being.
"Gnostic knowledge always escapes the analyses of normal subjective rationalism.
"The correlative of this knowledge is the infinite togetherness of the person, the Being.
"The reason for the Being to be is to be the Being himself. Only the Being can know himself.
"In Gnosis, therefore, the Being becomes Self-known.
"Undoubtedly, Gnosis in itself is Self-Gnosis; it is the Being evaluating and knowing himself.
"The Self-knowledge of the Being is a supra-rational movement that depends on the Being, and that has nothing to do with intellectualism.
"The abyss between the Being and the ego is impassable; this is why only the Pneuma, the Spirit, can recognize himself, and the action of recognizing himself is an autonomous act in which the subjective reasoning of the intellectual mammal becomes ineffective, insufficient, and terribly weak.
"Self-knowledge, Self-Gnosis, demands annihilation of the “I” as a previous, urgent, and unpostponable work. The I, the ego, is made up of additions and subtractions of subjective inhuman and bestial elements, which unquestionably have a beginning and an end.
"Unfortunately, the Essence, the consciousness, since it is imprisoned, trapped, bottled up within these diverse elements which constitute the myself, the ego, is painfully processing itself according to its conditioning.
"However, the Essence, the consciousness, awakens, becomes enlightened, is liberated, when the “I,” the ego, is dissolved, thus as a consequence or corollary, Self-knowledge, Self-Gnosis, develops. Undoubtedly, authentic revelation has its irrefutable and indisputable basis in Self-Gnosis... In the name of truth, I solemnly declare that the Being is the only real existence, and before the ineffable and terribly divine transparency of the Being, that which we call I, ego, myself is just outer darkness, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
"Therefore, due to the flow of the anthropological aspects of the Pneuma or Spirit, Self-Gnosis, or the Self-gnostic recognition of the Being, is confirmed decisively a savior.
"Knowing oneself is having achieved identification with one’s own divine Being.
"To know that you are identical to your own Pneuma or Spirit, to experience directly the identification of cognizance with the cognizant, is what we can and must define as Self-Gnosis.
"Clearly, this extraordinary disclosure invites us to die within ourselves so that the Being can manifest himself within us.
"On the contrary, to move away from the Being, to continue as ego within the heresy of separateness, means to condemn ourselves to the submerged devolution within the infernal worlds.
"This evident reflection leads us to the topic of the freely chosen Gnostic. Unquestionably, a serious Gnostic is already a chosen one, a posteriori chosen one.
"The Gnostic experience allows the sincere devotee to know himself and to integrally realize the Self.
"Let it be understood that Self-realization is the harmonious development of the entire infinite of human possibilities.
"Self-realization is not a matter of capriciously distributed intellectual data nor is it a mere insubstantial wordy talk of ambiguous chattering.
"Everything that we are stating in these paragraphs should be appreciated as genuine experience, real and vivid." —Samael Aun Weor, The Secret Doctrine of Anahuac
"Man is a strange complex mixture of will, feeling and thought. He is a triune being. He is like a tricycle or a three-wheeled chariot. He wills to possess the objects of his desires. He has emotion; and so he feels. He has reason and so he thinks and ratiocinates. In some the emotional element may preponderate, while in some others the rational element may dominate. Just as will, feelings and thought are not distinct and separate, so also, work, devotion and knowledge are not exclusive of one another. He must, therefore develop his heart, intellect and hand. Then alone can he attain perfection. Many aspirants have lop-sided development. They do not possess an integral development, as they neglect one or the other of these aspects of their personality. One-sided development is not commendable. Religion and Yoga must educate and develop the whole man - his heart, intellect and hand. Then only he will have integral development. In the mind there are three defects, viz., Mala or impurity, Vikshepa or tossing, and Avarana or veil. The impurities of the mind should be removed by the practice of Karma Yoga, by selfless service. The tossing should be removed by worship or Upasana, by Japa and devotion. The veil should be torn down by the practice of Jnana Yoga, i.e., by study of Vedantic literature, enquiry, self-analysis, service to the Guru, and deep meditation. Only then Self-realization is possible. If you want to see your face clearly in a mirror, you must remove the dirt in the mirror, keep it steady, and remove the covering also. You can see your face clearly in the bottom of a lake only if the turbidity is removed, if the water that is agitated by the wind is rendered still, and if the moss that is lying on the surface is removed. Even so is the case with Self-realization. Action, emotion and intelligence are the three horses that are linked to this body-chariot. They should work in perfect harmony or unison. Then only the chariot will run smoothly. There must be integral development." —Swami Sivananda
See also: The Nature of True Realization by Milarepa