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Below are instructions from the Vivekachudamani as translated by Sri Ramana Maharshi on the qualities needed for Self-Realization. They also represent the essence of Shankara’s commentaries of the triple canon of the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Brahma Sutras.

In order to be qualified for enquiry into the Self, a man must have a powerful intellect and ability to seize the essential and reject the inessential besides the various qualities enumerated in the scriptures. What are these? He must be able to discriminate between the Real and the unreal. He must have an unattached mind. He must ardently desire liberation. And he must be tireless in practice. Only such a one is qualified to enquire into Brahman. The qualifications are enumerated as follows:

1. Discrimination between the Real and the unreal.

2. Disinclination to enjoy the fruits of one’s actions either in this or in any further life.

3. The six virtues of tranquility, self-control, withdrawal, forbearance, faith and concentration of the Self.

4. Intense yearning for liberation.

The aspirant must indeed have these qualities in order to attain abidance in the Self; without them there can be no realization of the Truth. Let us see what these are:

1. Discrimination between the Real and the unreal is the firm conviction that Brahman alone is the Truth and that the world is unreal.

2. We both observe and learn from the scriptures that all pleasures experienced by animate beings, from Brahma downwards, are transient and impermanent and involve sorrows and imperfections; giving up the desire for them is vairagya or non-attachment.

3.[a] Tranquility implies fixing the mind upon its target by meditating frequently on the imperfections of things and becoming dissatisfied with them.

[b] Self-control means controlling the outer and inner sense organs and fixing them in their respective centres.

[c] Withdrawal means giving up all outer activity by fixing the mind on its target so firmly that it is not led by its previous tendencies to dwell on objects.

[d] Forbearance means the endurance of any sorrows that may befall without trying to avoid them.

[e] Faith, which is the cause of Self-realization, is the outcome of firm conviction of the Truth of Vedantic scriptures and of the words of the Guru.

[f] Concentration is making every effort to fix the mind on the pure Brahman despite its wandering nature. These are said to be the six qualifications needed for the practice of samadhi [Self-absorption].

4. Intense yearning for liberation arises from the desire to free oneself by realizing one’s true nature, attaining freedom from the bondage of the body and ego which is caused by ignorance. This yearning may be of different grades. It may be only dull or medium, but it may be highly developed by means of the six qualifications mentioned above, and in this case it can bear fruit. But if renunciation and yearning are weak, the result may be mere appearance like a mirage in the desert.

Of all the means leading to liberation, bhakti or devotion is the best; and this bhakti means seeking the Truth of one’s own Self – so say the sages.

The primary means of obtaining liberation is vairagya [dispassion]. Other qualities such as tranquility, self-control, forbearance, and renunciation of activity can come later, later again the hearing of Vedantic Truth, and still later, meditation on that Truth. Finally comes perpetual and prolonged meditation on Brahman. This gives rise to Nirvikalpa samadhi, through which is attained the strength for direct realization of the Supreme Self. This power of direct realization enables the discriminating soul to experience the bliss of liberation here and now. Such is the sadhana [spiritual practice] leading to liberation.

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