There are endless discussions on the „state“ of jivanmukta - needless to say amongst those who are not yet jivanmuktis and, interestingly, more among traditional advaitins than amongst Western advaitins. Among the traditional advaitins there are some who think that with enlightenment the world literally disappears, i.e. it is no longer perceived at all. Western advaitins usually adapt a more sober vision – also because their Gurus usually talk about the „state“ they are in and discourage such radical views. The Ashtavakra Gita which is held in high esteem with all advaitins who know it, comments on the question thus:
In chapter 18 we find the following verses describing the jivanmukti.
54 Whether he is honouring a Vedik scholar, the gods, or holy places – seeing a woman, a king or a beloved one, not a bit of desire ever springs in the heart of the Wise-one.
55 The Liberated is not at all perturbed even when scoffed and despised by his servants, sons, wives, daughter’s sons and other relations.
Reading up to here most seekers will happily agree: Yes, there is absolute equanimity in all situations in the jivanmukti.
Yet, having a closer look at those who are considered enlightened, they do display all kinds of behavior - not always as unperturbed and desireless as one would expect: Some get angry, others have addictions, some cry, others use abusive language etc. So the student will look at them and in order to not get confused at best shrug his shoulders helplessly and admit:“How can I know!“
What is the problem, what does he not understand? This becomes obvious in the next verse:
56 Though delighted, he is not delighted. Though afflicted, he is not afflicted. Only those who are like him understand this stupendous state.
This key verse (and there are many like it in the Ashtavakra Gita) points to the crucial difference between the mind of the jivanmukti and the jivanmukti him/herself. Those who consider the jivanmukti as someone who has ceased to see the world usually also claim that he does not have a mind anymore – his mind being forever destroyed. He just seems to operate a mind due to the delusion of those who look upon him and project their own minds upon him. This is not how Swami Chinmayananda (and others) read this verse.
Though delighted, he is not delighted.
Thus far agreement will be unanimous. It is the next sentence, which is the parting of the ways:
Though afflicted, he is not afflicted.
Why does this sentence part the ways? Because affliction should not even come up if there was perfect equanimity. The very word seems offensive if used in regard to the jivanmukti. Other possible translations for khinna don’t help either: sad, suffering, pain of uneasiness, disconsolate, wearied, depressed, distressed etc.
But: he is not afflicted - so the jivanmukti is none of these; why then mention the word khinna at all, saying “Though afflicted”? Is he or is he not?
Swami Chinmayananda: “The one who lives in the Self, as the Self, has transcended his mind, and therefore, if the mind is pleased, he is not pleased. It is the mind that feels ‘afflicted’, why should he feel afflicted?”
May I suggest that to put the first afflicted here in inverted commas is the work of one of those editors who just cannot bear such a word in this context. There really should be no inverted commas at all. The mind is the mind, a subtle instrument where all kinds of thoughts are processed: pleasure, affliction amongst many others. In principal there is no difference between this instrument and a gross instrument like the lungs where oxygen is processed. Whether the instrument belongs to the subtle or gross body of a jivanmukti or an ordinary mortal does not make a difference regarding the instrument.
Swamiji goes on: “The mind, the intellect and the body belong to us. We are the owners, possessors, proprietors (Svamins). If my buffalo gets dysentery, do I run to the hospital? No doubt the buffalo belongs to me! Possessor is not the possessed. The joys and afflictions of my body, of my intellect and of my mind cannot be joys and afflictions of me!”
So, there is a difference – not regarding the instrument but regarding the owner of the instrument. The jivanmukti knows himself as different from the instrument, that’s why, although he cannot prevent the instrument from functioning, he is not concerned with its functioning. In fact, because he is not concerned with its functioning why should he want to prevent the instrument from doing its work?
For those who do not know themselves as different from the instrument this is a difference too subtle to grasp. Swamiji: “This stupendous state (Ascarya-dasa) cannot be described in words, or communicated in any other way to the egocentric man. There is no language by which it can be expressed.”
Disregarding the group who claims that because the jivanmukti lives as pure atma he does not have a mind anymore, I think a common mistake is to believe that the jivanmukti necessarily has a totally sattvic mind. A certain level of chitta shuddhi has to be there to be able to realize the Self, and chitta shuddhi means the predominance of sattva in the mind. Yet it seems that this “certain level” does not imply that the mind needs to be sattvic through and through. That’s why affliction can come up in it at all.
I am an astrologer and in one group we once looked at anonymised charts; I asked the participants to determine which chart was of an enlightened being. I did not tell the participants that in fact all of the charts were of enlightened beings. Unanimously they decided that the chart of Ramana Maharshi was of an enlightened being. It is very balanced and emanates a flair of sattva. To me his chart reveals that if Ramana Maharshi had not been enlightened he would have had a balanced, soft, friendly – in one word sattvic – personality anyway. So the character traits that he displayed as a jivanmukti where sattvic.
Other jivanmuktis with other character traits - let’s say Bodhidharma – display other personalities.
Character traits are part of the personality, meaning they are part of the mind. They have nothing to do with jivanmukta. One character trait/mind pattern can be the tendency to get afflicted or delighted in a certain situation but the jivanmukti him/herself is free of character, free of delight, free of affliction.
 Ashtavakra Gita - with commentary by Swami Chinmayananda.