Numerous paths are described in various traditions, but among these paths prayer, meditation, and contemplation have been universally accepted and verified by the ancients. Discipline of mind, action, and speech are auxiliary, preliminary, and essential steps in each of these three different approaches. Let us explain and understand each of these distinct approaches separately.
The third approach, that of contemplation, is practiced by a fortunate few. To perform skillful action with non-attachment, one must sharpen his faculty of discrimination, judgement, and decisiveness. Knowledge flows from within, and the external world is the field of expression of that knowledge through various avenues that are available to usmainly mind, action, and speech. Contemplation is not an unorganized way of thinking; it is a precise method.
For contemplation one must train buddhi in all its aspects. A trained buddhi has pure reason, and pure reason has immense power to lead the aspirant to the door of liberation. First the student listens to the scriptures and studies them under the guidance of a competent teacher, an enlightened one who is able to understand the subtleties of the teachings of the great ones. Then, like a humming bee, with great joy he collects fragrances from different flowers and converts them into honey. The first step is called sravana, and the second is called manana. One then attains the third step, called nididhyasana., which means assimilating the knowledge one has gained and living according to it. After attaining that step, sakshatkara, in which the knowledge of the whole is revealed.