Saints have fourteen unforgettable characteristics that distinguish them, and when even just one of these traits are observed in someone, that observation prompts us to exclaim, "He/She is a saint!"

As we read about these fourteen traits, we might think that we can become saintly too by simply practicing what saints do, however, it never quite works out that way. Mimicking secondhand or academic information never leads to an authentic shift in our basic behavior. And although we might convincingly pretend for awhile, what we really are will eventually come out, just as water seeks its own level.

Saints don't think about how to act. The traits below are spontaneous in a saint and require no thinking at all; they are simply reflections of what is inside a saint; a saint‘s innermost being. Since saints appear in all religions, these traits are universal and can apply to all religions that are not hamstrung by restrictive, authoritative dogma, i.e., "Unless you believe in ---- you can‘t be a saint!"

Therefore, how saints have come to this tremendous shift in consciousness and awareness lies not in their beliefs per se, but through a transcendent understanding of life. This is what is to be studied, understood, and practiced; how saints lived and practiced their lives. Only then might the traits arise in us.

The Fourteen Saintly Traits:

1. Loving-kindness: Wishing that all people and creatures will be happy and well.

2. Compassion: Wishing all beings to be free from suffering.

3. Altruistic or sympathetic joy: Toward all beings and their accomplishments, with no feelings of jealousy or comparisons. A sincere wish for all to be successful.

4. Equanimity: A clear, calm awake mind that sees clearly and is not deluded, with no regard whatsoever neither for themselves or others regarding the Eight Worldly Winds that constantly blow us around: Praise and blame, gain and loss, fame and shame, happiness and despair. No distinguishing between friend or foe, relative or stranger, but rather seeing all as equal.

5. No attachment to an individual self, which is that delusion that we are solid personalities, which leads to ego belief, which leads to arrogance, pride and deceit.

6. No doubt, questions or concerns about what a saint has been in the past or will be in the future, i.e., what state they will appear in after death. Or "Who am I?" or "What am I?"

7. No reliance on rituals, ceremonies, books or sermons. The saint understands the personal introspection involved to effect the rare shift in consciousness that is necessary for these fourteen traits to manifest. The saint sees the futility of praying for a new awareness of life and relying on an outside source for their understanding compared tofollowing the difficult path that leads to freedom.

8. Lustful, passionate, sensual desires no longer plague a saint, which is both a result of the saint's insight that these things cause suffering in the long run, and a general dispassion for the world that sets in when a saint's attention becomes focused on the transcendent rather than the greed, hatred and delusion that occupies worldly minds.

9. Anger, disgust, annoyance, and ill-will toward others are all absent in a saint's mind.

10. The saint no longer is attached to physical forms, and has no desire for or adversity against remaining in a form or not.

11. The saint is no longer attached to formless, spiritual realms or disembodied heavenly realms and only pays attention to this moment in time, not worrying about his or her future.

12. A saint is no longer prideful, conceited, arrogant, self expressive, judgmental, self assertive, or feels superior or inferior. He or she abandons all measuring and evaluating.

13. A saint's mind is no longer distracted, excited, disturbed, confused and restless, or wanting to hurry through life so as to experience that much more. A saint's mind tends toward tranquility, peacefulness, and focus or one-pointedness.

14. A saint is tuned into the suffering of human beings and as such has tremendous compassion for all people regardless of their station in life, or their mental capacities. A saint is super intelligent in this area and not ignorant, which means that a saint understands the delusions that we are all under, i.e., the illusion that that there is a separate self that we must protect and defend which is the basis of our consternation. But a saint also recognizes that merely mentioning these things to people doesn't help, it only confuses them, and that only through suffering can people come to the conclusion that something is amiss, and then, only then, can they can come around by themselves, just as the saints have done.  

Author's Bio: 

Anagarika eddie is a meditation teacher at the Dhammabucha Rocksprings Meditation Retreat Sanctuary and author of “A Year to Enlightenment.” His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Thervada Buddhist monk.

He lived at Wat Pah Nanachat under Ajahn Chah, at Wat Pah Baan Taad under Ajahn Maha Boowa, and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under Roshi Kennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarika at both Amaravati Monastery in the UK and Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand, both under Ajahn Sumedho. The author has meditated with the Korean Master Sueng Sahn Sunim; with Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master Trungpa Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Zen Center in San Francisco.