VII:12-14 States of Being

Bhagavad Gita, Volume One, chapters 1-6, is now available for download.

A state of being is just a state. It is not really you—it is not Who you are, and it is not What you are. It is only the way you are being. When you say to someone, “That’s who I am,” you have told them about your state of being, not about You.

Know that all states of being, whether sattvic, rajasic or tamasic, emanate from Me only, but I am not in them, they are in Me.

When one sees the image of a face in a cloud, the form of the face is in the cloud, but the cloud is not a face. 

“Sattvic, rajasic or tamasic”
These three states are representative of the three modes of nature that cause all activity, gunas. Because we humans are identified with nature and consider ourselves to be doers of action, we get identified with these gunas. This superficial identity is a state of being.

  • Guna – A single strand of a whole; an attribute, mode or property of nature (prakriti).

A state is not really you—it is not Who you are, and it is not What you are. It is only the way you are being. Prakriti, the Divine Other-than-Y0u, seen from your viewpoint, looks like nature: stuff, things. The three gunas are the properties of this stuff, and prakriti is actually God.

Lord Krishna has already identified Himself as Absolute God, but these states are not Absolute. Though God is both Absolute and Relative (verses 4-7), these states can only exist in the Relative because they are changeable. Anything that can change is relative, such as this world where everything is changeable and relative to everything else.

Illustration: The Three Gunas

The gunas determine your basic state of being overall, and they also determine your state of being at any given moment. For instance, when you say, “I’m sad”, you are saying that what you are being is sad. You have identified yourself with ‘sad’. But you are not sad, you are being sad.

Mindful Self-Referencing
How to free yourself from false identities 

When, throughout your day, you notice that you are experiencing something, notice that you are in this state, that this is your state of being at this moment, but it is not You.

When you think “I’m angry,” try changing that thought to “I am being angry.” When you are feeling afraid and think “I’m afraid,” change it to “I am being afraid.” By noticing your experience and recognizing that you are in a state, you begin to loosen the chain of false identity with these states.

You can’t be what you are looking at, so you are separated from it by simply noticing it.

The Gunas and the Body

The gunas are often taught as goodness (sattvas), passion (rajas), and ignorance (tamas). But there is more to it that that. My eyes were opened to this by a yogic text I was reading many years ago. In it, the highest state of samadhi (union with the Absolute) was described as tamas. Whereas the usual sequence of gunas in relationship to the body is (from the bottom up) tamas, rajas, sattvas, in this text the sequence was rajas, sattvas and tamas. This intrigued me.

Since I had reached the point of considering what I read in these texts to be true, even when they seemed to be at odds with each other, I considered that this difference must be due to the difference in stages of yoga. That the highest samadhi is tamas has since been proved to me through experience, so I am confident that this lesser known concept of the gunas is also correct.

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Because of these states of being produced by the three gunas, all this world is stupefied and unaware of Me, who am eternal and beyond them.

  • The word for ‘eternal’ also means ‘unchanging, imperishable and non-decaying’.

The reason we do not know God is because we are blinded by the three gunas of material nature—we take the face in the cloud to be a real face. What we see is real, but because we see it from a viewpoint, our view is limited and we see it for something other than what it is. This is the meaning of ‘ignorance’; the stuff we see is ‘illusion’. 

The whole world, bewildered by these three modes of material nature, finds my divine illusion to be unfathomable. Only those who surrender to Me transcend it.

Science will keep on trying. But Lord Krishna has given us the key to making our way to the Real by reminding us that God’s existence as this world is inferior to His True and Absolute nature. So it is up to us to surrender to Absolute God to transcend, comprehend and get beyond our delusion. It is a choice we make. Or not.

Outs from this issue.

Namaste (I bow to the divine one that you really are),
Durga Ma

III:36-37 Outfoxing the Force

What is it that causes a person to act contrary to what will bring them what they seek? 


Arjuna spoke:
Then by what is one impelled to act so hazardously, even unwillingly, as if compelled by some force?

What is it that causes a person to act contrary to what will bring them what they seek? Even though we take a path best suited to our individual natures (verses 33-35) and do our best to practice these teachings faithfully, we can still be derailed. Why? What causes this?

The Blessed Lord spoke:
This force is desire, this force is anger, of which the rajas guna is the source. It is powerfully ravenous and consuming. Know it to be in this matter, the enemy.

Both desire and anger are problematic because of rajas, not because wanting something or feeling angry are inherently evil, but because of the consuming power of rajas, one of the three gunas (modes) of nature. Of the three, rajas is the most compelling—like a hurricane is compelling, or a tornado, or the heat of the desert, or the frozen tundra of the poles. For this reason, one practicing yoga sadhana is always wary of rajas.

“Desire and anger”

Desire (kama) and anger (krodha) are forms of ‘passion’ (rajas). Kama, desire, refers to sensual desire, and krodha, anger, refers to the reaction brought about by thwarted desire. In this way, they go together, anger being instigated by (thwarted) desire.

  • Desire is a function of the senses and the mind, anger is an emotion.
  • Desire is a want, anger is a feeling.
  • Both desire and anger rely on rajas.

Where desire and anger are concerned, rajas, passion, is the enemy, to greater and lesser degrees—with desire, the greater being lust and the lesser being what you want for lunch; with anger, the greater being wrath and the lesser being simple frustration with a task. 

“In this matter, the enemy” 

In this verse, we are talking about the rajasic nature of desire and anger making them “powerfully ravenous and consuming”. Rajas is said to be the source of both desire and anger. In other words, they cannot exist without some degree of rajas, and rajas, being a force of nature that is “powerfully ravenous and consuming”, cannot be suppressed. 

Rajas is not intrinsically bad any more that desire and anger are intrinsically bad. (By themselves, they might only be irritants.) Rajas is, after all, a property of nature and therefore divine in the relative sense. It is desire and anger that are the problem when they are powerful and ravenous. This understanding has led many a seeker to avoid anything of a rajasic nature, including food, people and places. Not a bad idea, really.

The Solution

It is often said that by increasing sattvas, tranquillity, the power of rajas is decreased, and that controlling desires controls lust, and that controlling lust controls anger. This is a logical stream of thought. Such practices can be effective, but require rigid willpower and must be constantly monitored.

The real solution to this dilemma is ‘indifference’. If nothing matters, desire is moot and there is nothing to become angry about. When you don’t care, neither desire nor anger can exist because rajas is not present, and both are dependent upon rajas for their existence.

So how do we get there? We take the teachings given by Lord Krishna seriously, and follow them. Chapters two and three are full of them, and more teachings on action will be coming up in chapter four to give us greater understanding. Their practice will bring us to a state of fulfillment where desires do not live. Once we have had a taste of this satisfying state, we will want more, and the more we experience it, the easier it will come, and desires will die a gradual and natural death.

Until that time, stick with your sadhana. Do not be too hard on yourself regarding desires, and control angry behaviors so as not to hurt or upset others, for it is simply not your inherent nature to do so. Such practices are money in the bank for making your road lighter and more fulfilling.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma


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