If you want to qualify yourself to realise the supreme truth, then there is one condition, says Sri Adi Sankaracharya in the Vivekachoodamani.
The condition is, you must be completely free of desire to experience objects through the senses. It is not easy to give them up, but it has to be done.
Only such a person is fit for liberation and not others—even if they may have mastered all the books of knowledge.
If a person is trying to cross over to the shores of existence with only a semblance of dispassion, they are caught in mid-waters by the crocodile called hope. It catches hold of our throat and drowns us right in the middle.
However, when the sadhaka is able to chop off the crocodile called hope to get some objects to gratify the senses and experience happiness by the sharp sword called dispassion, such a person beats his way to the shores of existence without any semblance of a doubt.
The Vivekachoodamani sounds a bell of warning to the one who follows the path of sense pleasures—that is towards doom and death.
However, if one fashions their life according to the words of well-wishers and the guru, and use their own means to walk the path of liberation, truly they attain the fruit of liberation.
The master gives a gentle nudge. But before launching off into advice, he ensures that we have a desire for liberation.
If such a desire is there, then push away desire for sense objects very far, as if we are shunning poison. As if we are taking nectar, we must focus our attention on being content, compassion, forgiveness, rectitude, calmness of mind, control of the sense organs as a daily practice with great respect to these qualities.
While the body is a precious instrument acquired by human beings to realise the presence of the supreme self within, and to that effect if the individual is not striving every moment to be free of ignorance whose origin is not known and is only nourishing the body, then it is equal to destroying one’s self.
In a humorous example, the Acharya says if the seeker is trying to pamper the body and still trying to look for the self within, it is like trying to cross the river holding on to a crocodile thinking it is a log of wood!
Delusion alone is a great death for the one who is desirous of liberation. This delusion includes the body, mind and intellect. Only when one has conquered this delusion such a person becomes qualified for liberation.
The writer is Sevika, Chinmaya Mission, Coimbatore (www.chinmayamission.com); email: email@example.com