The scriptures talk about several qualities that is required in a jnani (Person with insightful knowledge). Let us discuss 10 of them here.
(Image Credit: Premnath Thirumalaisamy)
- Humility – A Jnani does not desire for honour and acknowledgement from others regarding the depth or breadth of her/ his knowledge and qualities. So, people who look for fame for the wrong reasons fall under this trap. We could see very clearly that in this present world, vanity is quite vivid among the masses. The internet is often bloated with people advertising their qualities and experiences. It is interesting how the scriptures say that humility is one of the most important aspects of knowledge.
- Non Violence – More than not killing another being (man or animal), it also means not hurting the mind or intellect of another person as well. Bhagavad Gita says that the very action of classifying one man as friend and another man as not a friend (not necessarily an enemy) itself is a process of violence. So, the classification of people as “my countrymen” or “my batch mates” itself is a violent process. The Rishis have taught us to treat every being alike. No one is especially close to us or not close to us. This insight brings in an evolution of our mind and intellect in a major way.
- Tolerance – Someone looking to advance in improving knowledge is often subjected to insults and threats in many ways. There will be a lot of challenges towards the authority of your knowledge and insights. Tolerance is a big test that comes that way. This is especially true in case of people with power. Power often brings in such a condition that allows one to punish another for not being in line with your point of view. How do you develop an inclusive culture so as to treat an opposing idea or person with respect and love? This culture will help you advance as an insightful being.
- Simplicity – It is not uncommon to see knowledge being complicated and being kept out of reach of the masses. In fact, the highest form of knowledge is so simple and clear. Also, the person who looks to impart knowledge should also be simple in many ways. This simplicity can encompass lifestyle, career choices, food choices, choice of words and in so many aspects of life.
- Steadiness – Insightful jnanis are steady with respect to their outlook with regards to life. They are not shaken with the outside circumstances in any way. This will be reflected in their emotional maturity. A truly aware person is never seen brooding over losses, or angry with anyone. Such jnanis also have their lust and passion under control as well. However, it is not a forced control of rejection that is seen here. It is a very subtle, soft and yet powerful mechanism that is seen here, by which they have transcended the grips of lower emotions such as pride, anger, lust, envy and so on.
- Freedom from false ego – The awareness that I am not this body – mind mechanism, but the Atman or Spirit, that is not different from the planets, stars and space that encompass the universe really defines a jnani. All our limited and finite perceptions about ourselves and the world around us comes from the belief that we are our bodies and our minds. The very core of Advaita Vedanta is to break these limited beliefs and establish ourselves in the faith that we are much more than what we really experience with the help of our senses. Sankaracharya says to understand that we are not the actors nor the experiencers in the world around us. In that sense, the actions we perform are not really coming from us nor are the things that we experience felt or perceived by us. This may look a little difficult to accept, but once realised life becomes a joy in itself.
- Detachment – All sorrow arises from being associated too much with our partners, children, circumstances, career, home, political beliefs, religious beliefs, cultural beliefs, money, ideas and so many things. Human beings are so affected by the things they are attached to that they pull them in several directions resulting in a lack of clarity of thought and purpose at many instances. However, detachment never means irresponsibility in any way. Consider a doctor. If the doctor is too attached to the patient, she/ he will not be able to operate the patient very well. The hankering over end results will often result in lack of concentration or tactfulness.
- Solitude – The most groundbreaking insights happen to us in moments of solitude. However, solitude does not mean just physical isolation from other people and distractions. In the present day, we could try to get some time away from all electronics and people for at least a few minutes with just ourselves. This time could be spent in writing, meditation or pursuing some interests that are close to us. The results of these few minutes everyday is tremendous. Such moments of solitude can be used to quieten the mind and establish the stillness within. This still internal state has a great impact in leading us to insight and jnana.
- Practical Spirituality – Spirituality that exists only in words is not good. How much has the spiritual teachings distilled into our daily lives and actions? This decides the depth of our insights. So, learning a lot of books and memorising them is not advised by sages from India. That is a very mechanical way of looking at things. An experience that is lived in spirituality goes a long way towards insightful knowledge.
- Cleanliness – External and internal cleanliness goes a long way in a knowledgeable person. The surroundings, clothes, home, equipment and things used for work and so on needs to be clean. Also, the mind, intellect, intentions and such mental constructs also require to be clean in a jnani.
There are a lot many more qualities that are needed in a jnani as well. Do you practice these 10 qualities in your life?