Dear Francis, Is the jnani perfectly free from thoughts? Or does he still have them from time to time? Does he occasionally get caught up in the world, and then have to stop and allow his true identity to return? Or is he free permanently, no matter what happens? Thank you for speaking words of Truth. Kindest regards, Franklin
Yes, the jnani is perfectly free from thoughts but yes, the jnani has thoughts. One can be free from thoughts in the presence of thoughts. For instance, in this moment, as I am answering your question, thoughts are appearing, and their appearance is my answering, but I am free from them, in that sense that I am not affected by them in any way. They just flow by. The only problematic thoughts are those that originate from the ignorance of our true nature, from the belief that we are a limited entity.
Let’s now consider the second part of your question. First, we have to define a jnani: do we mean a liberated one, a jivanmukta, or one who is knowingly established in the peace of his true nature, a sage? (of course, we are speaking here at a relative level, for in reality there never was nor is anybody who could become liberated or established in equanimity).
Having clarified this ambiguity, we can say that the jivanmukta may occasionally get caught up in the residual habits and patterns of thought, feeling and activity left over by ignorance, without ever returning to ignorance itself, and then has to stop and drop the habit to revert to enjoying the peace of his true nature. While being under the spell of the residual habit (vasana, samskhara), he/she temporarily fails to enjoy he fruit of his/her liberation. These relapses become less frequent and shorter as the jivanmukta gets incrementally established in self-knowledge. At some point they become insignificant and the jivanmukta has become the sage. She/he is free permanently. Of course, I say “the” sage because there is only one sage.