Much emphasis is placed on the quality of our spiritual leaders. Are they competent to help us? Are they being good examples for us?
As necessary as these questions are, there is another question that is still more necessary, and it is this: Am I a good follower? Am I a good disciple?
For many in our society, the idea of being a follower is less than glamorous. And yet, this is worthy of our attention, since no matter what we do, and regardless of who we are, we are always by default more a follower than a leader.
We can consider how even a President or the CEO of a mega corporation is still more follower than leader, since he or she has to follow the doctors advice or the needs and expectations of the public and voters or customers and shareholders.
In vivekachUDAmaNi, a famous text attributed to shrI shaMkarAcArya, we find chatuShTaya sampatti or the fourfold qualification that is essential for the study and practice of advaita vedAnta. Verse nineteen reads:
Adau nityAnityavastuvivekaH parigaNyate |
shamAdiShaTkasampattiH mumukShutvamiti sphuTam ||
1) vivekaH is discernment between the unreal and the Real.
2) vairAgya is dispassion from sense objects.
3) shamAdi ShaTka sampatti is a collection of six behaviors the include shama (control of the mind), dama (control of the body and the sense), uparati (the neutalization of likes and dislikes), titikShA (tolerance of the ups and downs of life), shraddhA (unwavering faith in ourself, the scriptures, God, and the guru, as well as samAdhAna (one-pointed concentration on brahman).
4) mumukShutva is the burning desire for liberation.
On the advaita path, if we are working to accomplish this qualification, we can answer Yes to this important question.