Moksha has different connotations and different ways to “achieve” it according to traditions or mārga. Each tradition (Advaita Vedanta, Vishistadvaita and Dvaita) has its own Yog and we could summarise all of them in 4 main categories:
Bhakti, Karma, Jnana, Raja.
Non-dualistic view - Advaita Vedanta - Jnana Yog.
To understand moksha one should first ask to himself:
“What is liberation?”
Of course the most common answer would be “Liberation is being freed by dukkha and samsara, cycles of death and births”
But let’s dig a bit deeper; we have the idea that once we die if we did not “reach”liberation we will reincarnate again to learn. We all can agree that if you are reading this, it happened again: you reincarnated.
But there’s a fundamental issue here. We said “You” reincarnated, but “you” who?
Who is the one that dies? Let’s think for a moment: You right now are a person with a specific name with a specific history and you identify yourself with these values and thoughts. Before this life you were another person, with another name, doing another job, being married or not with a completely different life. Yet, every time we say “I need to reach moksha to be freed”.
But who is that I? If in this life there is this “you” with your name and personality, in the previous life you were a completely different person. And how many times did you already reincarnate? How many times you were born?
If you were all these people with very different characteristics then who you REALLY are? You right know think you are the “real” self, but you were thinking the same in your previous life. You will also think about being the “real” self in future lifetimes as well.
So, this boils down to a very specific question:
What has been preserved during all these lives? What did not change? Obviously the body changed, the name changed, the thoughts you had changed as well. The entire person changed.
What has been preserved? What did not change during all these lives you had?
Finding the answer to that question will lead you to an interesting discovery.
If you can’t answer to that question you’ll understand that reincarnation is there because of Avidyā, ignorance.
Question: “Who dies?”
Question: “If you died many times and every time were a completely different person who is that “Me” who actually dies?”
What dies is the body, the mind, the thoughts. Being concerned about death and birth is identifying with the body. Yet, on every birth the body changes and you can’t say “I am this body” since you also were the previous bodies that died. Yet, here you are.
This question is incomplete.
We should also ask to ourselves “Who has born?”
Who is that “Me” that has born? Upon birth we don’t have knowledge of ourselves, yet we say “I was born”.
“Who was actually born?”
“Who is that “I”?”
Chit. Or consciousness.
What bind us here is ignorance, the Jnani is not conscious of mukti.
तस्य हेतुरविद्या,> तदभावात्संयोगाभावो हानं तद् दृशेः कैवल्यम् | After the dissolution of avidya (ignorance),comes removal of communion with material world,> this is the path to Kaivalyam. — Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (Sadhana Pada), 2:24-25
First remove ignorance then the question “How to attain Moksha” will not be there anymore.
“Just as the fire is the direct cause for cooking, so without Knowledge no emancipation can be had. Compared with all other forms of discipline Knowledge of the Self is the one direct means for liberation. Action cannot destroy ignorance, for it is not in conflict with or opposed to ignorance. Knowledge does verily destroy ignorance as light destroys deep darkness.”
- Verse 2:3, Ātma-bodha, Adi Shankara