Character Reference

In numerous sections of the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna outlines the qualities of highly successful spiritualists. He mentions tolerance, peacefulness, compassion, fearlessness, and forgiveness to name but a few. It can be a struggle to imbibe such qualities in the practicality of daily life when situations seem to demand other responses. Don’t the peaceful have to be passionate at times? Don’t the tolerant have to react strongly in certain instances? Don’t we all have to sometimes be fearful for the sake of survival? It could appear that superficially following such qualities can be one-dimensional and pretentious. Are these character traits to be imbibed in all times, places and circumstances?

Such spiritual qualities are offered as a framework to guide our decisions, responses and wanderings in this complicated world. When deciding any course of action, the spiritualist remembers the deep-seated principles they live by. However, one must have the wisdom to intelligently and appropriately apply such principles in any given situation. We may have a stereotyped image of how humble, tolerant and peaceful spiritualists conduct themselves, but these qualities go much deeper than the surface. The acts we see with our eyes may not be the true indicator of such character, but rather the motivation and consciousness behind such acts.

There is never a time when the spiritualist is not tolerant. At times, however, they may speak strongly, express displeasure and act assertively to create change. Despite this, they  never feel personal discomfort or inconvenience, but simply act for the benefit and welfare of others. There is never a time when the spiritualist is not fearless. At times, they may instinctively manifest certain psychophysical symptoms of nervousness, alarm and fright for the purpose of survival. Despite this, they maintain a sense of equilibrium, peace and clarity in all situations, just like a deep ocean which exhibits crashing waves on the surface but remains serenely calm deep down. There is never a time when the spiritualist is not humble. At times, they may act boldly and exude confidence and self-assurance. Despite this, they remain pure in motivation, never conducting themselves in such ways for the purpose of name, fame, and prestige; the confidence comes from faith in the divine, and the motivation is service to others. Such qualities are promoted in the great wisdom traditions of the world. They guarantee success.

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