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The qualities of the student

Vairagya :
Is certain dispassion or objectivity towards the life pursuits and my experiences41 . Being objective means seeing a value of a given thing as it is. For example, with reference to money, people tend to have extreme opinions. Either money means everything and one thinks that all ones security and pleasures come from money; or one concludes that money is totally addicting and hence useless for the person who wants to be 'spiritual'. In fact, none of these opinions are right. Neither money is the solution to all problems nor is money totally useless. Money has certain value as it gives purchasing power to enjoy things that one likes. However, money is not capable of bringing a lasting fulfillment by itself. When I see this, I am objective. Just like money, I can gain objectivity with reference to all persons, objects and pursuits.

Then, I can continue to pursue things without seeing them as an end in themselves. I am clear that freedom is the only end I am seeking, a freedom from sense of limitation that those pursuits are incapable of producing. However these pursuits can subserve my quest for freedom, as they can become a means for me to grow into a mature individual.

Mumuksutvam :
Is desire for freedom: I am clear about what I want in life. Freedom is not one of my many desires but the main desire. I choose to pursue freedom with commitment and it becomes my main pursuit. This desire for freedom is then converted into the pursuit of knowledge and the inquiry into ones true nature, as I understand from the Upanishads that freedom is only gained through knowledge of oneself.

Sraddha :
Is the conviction or trust in the means of knowledge that is Vedanta and in the ability of the teacher to make me see my true nature 42. My attitude is one of openness; I give the benefit of doubt to the means of knowledge to do its work. The inquiry into myself also involves analyzing what is unfolded by a teacher. If my conclusions are wrong, I am able to drop them without resistance. This does not mean I have total faith without questioning anything. In fact I never cease to have an inquiring mind and am never shy of asking questions until I understand. But the attitude is that of wanting to understand, rather then arguing just for the sake of refuting what is said.

Samadhanam :
Is the capacity to stay with a subject matter for a length of time, and think about it from different aspects. Even though the nature of the mind is to move, I undertake various practices such as meditation, to gain certain mastery over my ways of thinking so that I can dwell in depth upon a given thing for a length of time.

It is important to note that in reality, nobody comes to Vedanta with all these qualities in full measure. However, if one has the desire for freedom and some cognitive skills, all other qualities can be developed in time. The texts of Vedanta themselves underline importance for the self growth and describe elaborately all the means through which inner transformation can take place.


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