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Eligibility – Worthiness For The Knowledge Of Brahman

In Vivekachudamani, Adi Shankaracharya gives the qualities of the person eligible for the knowledge of Brahman in the following verse.

He alone is qualified to seek Brahman who has discriminating wisdom to recognize real and illusory or eternal and transient, whose mind is turned away from all enjoyments, who possesses tranquility and the kindred virtues and who feels a longing for liberation.

The purpose of spiritual knowledge is the awakening of the self and the transformation of life itself. The ancient spiritual wisdom of Hinduism has come down to the present time through an unbroken succession of competent persons with the requisite qualities and virtues. Every spiritual discipline has a set of qualities and virtues to determine the eligibility of an aspirant to achieve its goal. In Vedanta philosophy, the following four fold perseverance has been prescribed in order to become person eligible for the knowledge of Brahman, which covers the need of most of the disciplines.

  • Discriminative Faculty – This arises from an intuitive and unshakable conviction of the mind that Brahman alone is the real substance and all other things are unreal and illusory. It is called discrimination between the real and the unreal.
  • Renunciation – This is utter disregard of all pleasures, ranging from the enjoyment of the sensuous objects to this world to the experience of happiness one expects in heaven after death. The intelligent aspirant realizes that no pleasure, whether here or hereafter, can have an infinite duration because they are the results of finite action.

Self knowledge is not the direct result of any action; it always exists. The Vedantic discipline merely removes ignorance, just as the wind blows away a dark cloud hiding the sun and the self shines like the radiance of the sun.

  • Six treasures – These form the ethical foundation of spiritual life. Their practice prepares the inner faculties for the cultivation of the higher knowledge. They are as follows –

  1. Calmness – for the spiritual progress, a person must cultivate inner calmness. Calmness implies absence of agitation, remaining unmoved and unruffled in all conditions of life. Calmness is the stepping stone to peace and purity.
  2. Self – Control – Restraining the organs of both perception and action from their respective objects and keeping them under control is called self control or dama. Endowed with this virtue the aspirant engages only in hearing about Brahman, reasoning about it and meditating upon it.
  3. Self Withdrawal – it is the function of the mind which prevents the sense organs and the mind (manas), restrained by sama and dama, from drifting back to their respective objects.
  4. Forbearance – the man practicing this discipline bears all odds with endurance and does not care to relieve his physical suffering nor does he show any anxiety or grief on that score. He remains unaffected by all the pairs of opposites in life.
  5. Complete Satisfaction – The aspirant gets complete solution of mind through the above virtues. It helps in concentrating the mind upon Brahman.
  6. Faith – It is the function of the mind that enables the aspirant to accept as true the words of Vedanta or other scriptures as taught by his Guru. It is the affirmative attitude of mind, which helps intuitively to believe in the existence of ultimate Reality and eternity of the ‘being’.
  7. Longing for liberation – This is the intense longing of the aspirant to free himself from all bondages pertaining to the body, the mind and the ego, created by ignorance.

The longing for one’s freedom is the result of all virtues mentioned above. It endows the sadhaka with an intense single-mindedness that enables it to pierce through the thick crust of ignorance.

In this way, four fold perseverance are the cardinal virtues in the path of any kind of spiritual discipline.