“O Long Armed One, the gunas of Prakriti (Nature) — sattva, rajas and tamas — bind the Imperishable Embodied One to the body.”
- Nature – All things visible and invisible, including people, that exist in the created world and the cosmos — the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including humans and human creations, plants, animals, the landscape and other features and products of the earth.
The gunas of Prakriti are the ways Nature acts that keep the partnership of our Selves and our bodies intact. We live in bondage to these three gunas, but we wouldn’t be here without them. Later we are going to learn how to free ourselves from these gunas while continuing to be in life, but first we need to understand their place in life and in this world.
Like a house that is made of bricks but when we look at it what we see is a house, in the same way, Nature is made up of gunas but when we look at it what we see is Nature. We think of Nature as having gunas, but like the house, Nature doesn’t just have gunas, it is gunas. It’s a package deal.
What Are Gunas?
There are three characteristics of Nature’s movements, three ways that Nature acts. The three gunas are the three ways Nature acts in varying degrees and combinations. Like weather fronts that cause various kinds of actions in subtle and gross matter when they interact, the gunas cause various kinds of actions in the world and those who inhabit it.
You (purusha) experiencing Another (prakriti) and not seeing the Other as the same as yourSelf, but as different than you, create a dual situation. This moves you, a Divine Individual, from the Absolute to the Relative, and into being something other than what you really are. In this new situation in which you are being a Being, you can begin to find your way back to the Absolute situation, only now, with full consciousness.
Before, you realized your own existence, and now, after a journey through the relative realm of beings, you have the means to return with full consciousness: the Highest Knowledge of the Highest Yoga, and the Highest Action “by which all the sages have gone from here to param siddhi, the highest possible accomplishment.” You can go Home as your real Self, with full consciousness of everything.
- parāṁ siddhi – the highest and ultimate perfection, the highest state
The Nature of Nature is to Move
All action occurs in Nature
I often say, “All action occurs in Nature,” but it might be more correct to say, “All action is intrinsic to Nature.” The gunas are three characteristics of actions, changes, or ways that occur in Nature. All action is, is gunas.
Nature with its gunas are Prakriti misperceived. If you take action out of the picture, the only thing remaining is Prakriti as She really is: God, You and Other Divine Individuals just like You. And now we have Brahman, the Absolute, all of Us.
Action is intrinsic to Nature. The gunas are the different modes of Nature’s actions.
Transcending the Gunas
So now it is time to remember that, because you have power (you are a ‘god’, after all), you have the power to perceive, to know. This power has manifested as your senses. When your senses work without their organs your perception is direct and you perceive only the Real. This is something that becomes obvious through the correct practice of meditation.
Once you engage in ‘looking’, you have duality and action (looking is an action). When you have action, you have time (from a human perspective). So by transcending the gunas, you transcend all these modes of the mirage, and all that remains is Brahman, Absolute God, Prakriti, all of Us and your Real Self. Time continues but you have gone beyond it, and for this reason, you “do not experience dissolution, and are not born again at the time of creation” (verse 2). All these features of the mirage, these gunas, must be transcended to reach the Real.
When we (purusha) view prakriti (others), what we see is Nature with its gunas (modes of action). All action in Creation bears all three of these characteristic modes in varying degrees and combinations. Thus are sattva, rajas and tamas not only the modes of Nature, they’re a package deal, but they bind the Imperishable Embodied One (You) to the body. They were there for your embodiment in Nature, and now you’re stuck with them.
- Transcend – to go beyond the range of something; to surpass.
This binding by the gunas is the only obstacle to liberation — one wants a body because of the influence of the gunas. Because we are still erroneously ‘looking’ for each other by means of the body and the senses, we keep this cycle going. It is our identity with these gunas of Nature that hooks us.
When you despair of ever being able to abandon desires (which is impossible), think instead of abandoning attachment to desired objects.
When you think you must somehow rid yourself of the gunas (which is impossible), think instead of ridding yourself of their influences, by abandoning your identity with them (casting yourself as the doer of actions).
In Nature there is always action. The fundamental characteristic of You however, is non-doing. And once again we are reminded, “What you really are does nothing.”
This realization is most effectively accomplished in meditation in which spontaneous action occurs and you realize that it happened without you — without will, for any purpose of your own, and therefore not creating any kind of karmic debt to hold you back. In that moment, you experience liberation. And even though you lose it later, you know what it’s like. And because you know what it’s like, it can continue to increase until you are truly free and united with Absolute God. You will have achieved Lord Krishna’s state, just as He said you would.
The bottom line is this: We find God and each other by not trying, by not using the will (choosing to choose). Using the will always stops things cold in the midst of the mirage. But we are looking for the Real, so we surrender our will to That (we choose not to choose), to Absolute God in meditation, in order to bring us to Absolute God, where we rediscover our Real Selves.
Your Fundamental Inherent Power is to Choose or Not to Choose
To Be, or not to Be. That is the question.
- Will – choosing to choose; to continue being the chooser.
- Surrender to God – choosing not to choose; surrendering your will to God.
Thy will be done, O Lord, not mine.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Namaste (I bow to the divine one that you really are),
Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga
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