You may do anything with devotion but never stop short of your efforts to realise the true self. This is the warning Sri Adi Sankaracharya gives in Vivekachoodamani. There is no liberation without realising the oneness of the individual and supreme self is the final law. Having said that, he goes on to describe how to make ourselves a fit student of self-realisation. Whether it is applying for an LKG admission in school or a medical or engineering college, there are some requirements which the candidate must meet. In the same way there are specific qualities a seeker of the self must surely possess.
While the right place and time may indeed be a support, the success on this path is dependent on the efforts of the individual. So, the one who desires liberation has to contemplate after duly prostrating at the feet of a master who is the best among the knowers of the self and is also an ocean of compassion. Why is compassion expected of a teacher? Well, it needs tremendous patience and mercy to guide a student who is capable of making umpteen number of mistakes in the process.
A fit student must have an extraordinary memory power. He must be learned in the affairs of the world and also in the workings of the world of his mind. He must be able to argue with skill defending the scriptures and against those who refute the scriptures. The author considers a person fit to enquire into the Brahman only if he has the capacity to discriminate between what is the reality and what is transient and is capable of withdrawing his attention from that which is unreal and impermanent.
He must possess the six wealths of evenness of mind—control of the senses, focus on one’s own duty, forbearance to the pinpricks of life, faith in the words of the teacher and the scriptures, and a mind that is always steady. The last important quality is an intense desire to be liberated from the bondage of a limited mind functioning within space, time and causation.
If there is no adherence to these four qualities called Sadhana Chatushtaya, Viveka, Vairagya, six qualities that begin with Shama and Mumukshutwa, self-realisation is a far cry. Viveka is having a certain understanding that the supreme self alone is the truth and this world of names and forms are impermanent. Vairagya is a withdrawal of the mind from all that is seen and heard—meaning experiences that are direct and remembered. It is born out of a realisation that from the physical body which is our first habitat, up to the creator, Lord Brahma, everything is only transient.
The writer is Sevika, Chinmaya Mission, Coimbatore
(www.chinmayamission.com); email: email@example.com