Qualities That Qualify Us – Part Two

Qualities That Qualify Us – Part Two

Once a learned scholar wanted to cross a river. He told a boatman to take him across but apologised that he didn't have any money. The boatman was a nice man and said it didn't matter. The scholar felt he owed something to the boatman so he wanted to share his knowledge with him. He asked, ‘Do you know mathematics?’ The boatman replied that he didn't. 

‘Oh, a quarter of your life is then wasted,’ replied the scholar. 

‘What about grammar?’ The boatman replied that he didn't. ‘Oh, half of your life is then wasted,’ replied the scholar.

‘And do you know literature?’ The boatman replied that he didn't. ‘Oh, three-quarters of your life is then wasted,’ said the scholar.

Just then the boat started rocking. A terrible storm was upon them. The boatman asked the scholar, ‘Do you know how to swim?’ The scholar replied that he didn't. The boatman replied, ‘Oh, your whole life is then wasted!’ 

We may know many things in life but what we really must know is how to live life with values. When problems and difficulties come to us, how do we face them? Here are eleven more of the qualities mentioned by Krishna to Arjuna in the 16th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, with reflection points to mull over:


Why do we need to step on anyone’s toes while playing the game of life? There is room for us all to be great. It is not me vs. the world.


When you can be the same way in public as you would be in private, then you are truthful.


Patience applies to all lengths of time. We need patience in the long run and also in short-term scenarios, such as when threading a needle. How do we cultivate patience? Set goals and keep at them!


Renunciation is not just at the physical level. It is first and foremost at the mind level. We cannot renounce what we don’t have or don’t like. That’s just an excuse to stay away from the unpleasant.


When we see our individual responsibility in all the terror, disease, poverty, hardships and negatives of the world, maybe then we will do something about our inner peace.


Here honesty means integrity. Being truthful to the world is honesty, being truthful to oneself is integrity. We need both to live in  peace..


Can we recognise and understand someone’s true need, be there for them and help to fulfill it? That may be unspoken, but it does not go unheard. That is compassion. 


Most of us over-do what we like and never want to do what we dislike. We become balanced individuals when we do everything in moderation. This applies especially to what we like most, because that’s where greed develops, and that leads to agitation.


A gentle person does not think just of other people but also wants to maintain the right contact with their surroundings. Are we conscious of how we close the cupboard door and how we leave our shoes?


Modesty is being calm and collected and not putting myself before others. But we should not be too modest. Refusing to accept praise is also a form of ego as the focus remains on me. Thanking someone shifts the attention to them.



We live in a speedy world where nothing moves faster than our minds. An attempt at single-pointed focus of the mind may not slow it to complete stability, but it will certainly help. And eventually, practice makes perfect.

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Chinmaya Udghosh