This is an interesting question which was initiated through the blogging of Ramesam and Martin on the need for both analyses and synthesis to arrive at knowledge and the conversation between Dennis and Anonymous. It might be interesting to explore this further?
The ‘traditional’ school of Advaita seem to argue that jnana is based upon knowledge that can be gained from scriptures and a competent teacher, together with a period of ‘purification’.
The realised masters of Advaita – most notably Sri Ramana and Sri Nisargadatta – but also the likes of Sw Chinmayananda, JK, Francis Lucille – would argue that mind is a necessary first step, but then it has to be discarded. If I can synthesise my understanding of their pointers – I think it is that the mind itself is just thoughts and this is the cause of the maya / illusion. Therefore to get out of the maya, to become a jnani, mind itself needs to be set aside; but of course a mind / thought cannot volitionally do this.
I’ve already set out some quotes in a previous thread with Martin under “Buddhi is also something perceived”, which includes one on ‘no mind’ from Gaudapada.
Here is what Vasistha had to say (from “The Vision and the Way of Vasistha” by BL Atreya):
139: The Wise understand Self-knowledge (alone) as knowledge. On the contrary, those other knowings are (only) false knowledge on account of non-perception of the real truth (or essence).
218: Without reflection (or investigation) the Truth is not properly understood even a little. The Truth is known by investigation. By knowing the Truth there is repose in the Self.
219: “Who am I?” How was this evil called worldly existence obtained?” Reflecting thus through logic is declared as investigation.
450: Know imagination as the mind. It (the mind) is not different from imagination as water (is not different) from liquidity and as motion (is not different) from wind.
759: When the mind is swiftly restrained by the intellect through human effort, (this) illusory wheel is stopped due to the arrested propelling of the hub.
1613: The dissolution of the mind of its own accord, on account of absence of attachment to all desires, is described by the name liberation by the knowers of Truth who have realised the Self.
1617: The state consisting of imagination (or desire) of the Supreme Self is called the Mind. On account of the absence of imagination (or desire), there arises the state of no-mind (or absence of thought). Liberation arises from that.
1732: Wise men consider the firm and abundant conviction that there exists here the Supreme Self of the nature of beginningless and endless Light (or Consciousness) as right (or true) Knowledge.
1740: One perceives the Self by the self by pure investigation. The manifold thinking relating to the world vanishes by investigation.
1935: Rama! This investigation of one’s own self, bearing the form “Who may I be?” is considered as the fire in the burning of the seed of the evil tree that is the mind.
1947: The knowers (of the process) of imagination declare only the I-thought (or the feeling of “i”) as imagination. Contemplation of that (I-thought) in the sense of the space (of Consciousness) is called the renunciation of imagination.
So it seems Vasistha emphasised self-investigation (“who am I?”) as the means to true Knowledge and thence Liberation (which is equated to no-mind), and scriptures as a pointer to help purify the mind. [Very much in accord with Sri Ramana’s teaching – and in stark contrast to Sw Dayananda’s and Sadananda’s misunderstanding / misrepresentation of the latter.]