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The Characteristics of an Enlightened Being

These qualities of a person endowed with spiritual wisdom are patience, determination, purity of body and mind, selfless love, an everpresent awareness and yearning for the indwelling divinity, and the six qualities which are known as the spiritual treasures‹namely, control of the mind, control of the senses, renunciation of selfish desires, endurance and indifference to all kinds of opposites such as pain and pleasure, an unshakable faith in the sacred teachings and contentment derived from a steady, unwavering mind. Let us consider the first of these qualities: patience.

Patience or forbearance is one of the most important characteristics that every person should practice and possess. Many kings have been destroyed because they abandoned this quality of patience. Even great sages have lost all their spiritual merit because they neglected this quality. Countless scholars have come to ruin because they overlooked this invaluable characteristic. Patience can be thought of as the most important shield and armor for facing the battle of life. You quickly lose all your human qualities if you lose patience. As you have already seen, the quality of patience is an extremely important sign of a great person; without patience it would not be possible to become an enlightened being.

A resolute nature, in other words, the quality of determination and being endowed with a firm resolve, is the pre-condition for developing patience. Now, a resolute nature should not be associated with stubborn foolishness. In matters relating to the spirit, firmness and a resolute nature refer to a mind that is free from delusion and unsteadiness.

Whatever obstacle is encountered, whatever troubles and problems arise, with a resolute nature you will remain firmly committed to pursue the tasks which you have undertaken until you achieve your final goal. If you do not have this quality of determination, then patience will have no basis and cannot develop in strength. Patience and determination are twins; one cannot exist without the other. Without determination, patience cannot establish itself, and without patience, determination will degenerate into arrogance.

Next, let us consider purity. Just as you undertake various actions to purify your body, so also you must undertake various good actions to purify your mind. Through these acts, you can remove the attachments and desires that have polluted your mind with egoism. Only when these negative qualities are eliminated will you be able to achieve self-control. Just as a tortoise is free to loosen its limbs and come out of its shell, or to withdraw itself back into its shell, in the same way, you should be able to control your senses and use them when you need them. The Gita has affirmed that these are also very important qualities of a wise person.