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Man of wisdom

CHENNAI: : There are certain distinguishing features with which it is possible to identify a man of wisdom. Adi Sankara towards the end of his work, Vivekachudamani, describes at length the characteristics of an enlightened man (Jivanmukta) for the benefit of spiritual seekers. This text says that a realised man does not worry about the past, present or the future. He has absolute detachment and is not swayed by likes and dislikes. Hence, he is the master of the situation. He remains rooted in Self-knowledge.

In his discourse, Swami Mitrananda said as a spiritual aspirant progressed towards the goal of liberation he must learn to see life in the light of spiritual knowledge. This will amount to a total change of lifestyle. He should always be in the shelter of this received wisdom. The Bhagavad Gita gives the example of a tortoise, which retracts its limbs and head into its shell when it senses any threat. A spiritual seeker should similarly when challenged by worldly influences encounter them with the shield of Self-knowledge. Sankara in another work, Panchadasi, gives the analogy of a lamp. The light of the lamp illumines a drama on stage. So also, should life be lived in the light of Self-knowledge; then there will not be delusion.

Why do scriptural texts like the Vivekachudami implore the seeker to be anchored in Self-knowledge? For this, it is essential to understand how the human mind works. Normally it is with the mind that man engages in the world and the mind fragments the experience of Reality. So, man wrongly perceives the world with divisions, which is of his own making. Spiritual practice involves directing the mind within to experience the Self. This introversion is essential till the mind overcomes duality and experiences oneness. Once this gets established in a man of wisdom the essential unity of the Reality will get extended to his experiences of the outer world of the senses.

Another mark of a Self-realised person is his equanimity of mind irrespective of whether he is praised or censured by others. This composure is not a cultivated trait but is intrinsic to his nature because he sees only the Self in others. So his mind will not react as it would normally to such opposites and there will not be elation when someone praises him or anger when he is derided.

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