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Qualifications for the Self?
Seeker: Dear Ramji, I have been watching your excellent videos on the Bhagavad Gita. While watching, a question has come up that I have been mulling over for a while. In both of the texts there are passages that describe the self-realized person. You mention a few times that if you do not have these qualities then you are not enlightened. However, I was wondering, if enlightenment is the understanding that you are not a person at all but in fact pure awareness, then of what relevance is this list of characteristics? Even if a lack of certain characteristics are observed in the mind, they are known to you, pure awareness. If you know that you are never affected by the apparent mind that you seem to appear as, then why would there be a need for concern about the characteristics of one type of mind or another? Are these descriptions like other instances in the Gita when Krishna is trying to meet Arjuna where he is at on the spiritual path?
Ramji: Yes. They are addressed to an ego that is happy to claim that it is enlightened merely on the basis of its knowledge OF the self. If you actually are the self, then the “qualifications” mean nothing. The qualifications are also needed to explain to an inquirer why inquiry is not bearing fruit. They indicate that sadhana is needed.
The big issue in this whole enlightenment business is the distinction between indirect and direct knowledge. If the knowledge is indirect – if the ego is claiming enlightenment based on an epiphany or a belief, the qualifications apply insofar as they are a statement of self-knowledge in terms of life for the jiva in the apparent reality. If the knowledge is direct, there is no jiva – i.e. the three bodies have been negated – so there is no apparent reality whatsoever. There is only the self. So there are no qualities or qualifications.
The qualifications – like the karma yoga and the guna teachings – are both sadhanas and statements of self-knowledge.
~ Love, Ramji