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Seen and Unseen Results
Tabo: I have a burning Vedanta question that is triggered by a conversation I had with James Swartz two months ago. James talked about the importance of noticing the observable and unobservable effects of one’s actions.
I can think of only two examples and I wonder if they are the correct illustrations of the above Vedanta practice. For many years, I am very interested in making money through my work. The observable effect of my taking on more work is the stress and occupation of my time and energy that I experience from the additional work. The unobservable effect of this seeking is that it creates in me an interest (compulsion or addiction) in getting more money.
Another example that I can think of is when I decide to spend some time reading mindless and entertaining stuff on the internet. The observable effect I can see from this action is that I am spending time doing something that is not that enjoyable to me and that it has no
psychological or spiritual benefit to me, and that I can get hooked in for a long time in this activity. The unobservable effect I can see from this action is that that it creates in me an interest in being more distracted by the mindless and entertaining stuff.
Please share with me some examples you can think of regarding the observable and unobservable effects of one’s actions when rajas, tamas or sattva are in play.
~ Thanks, Tabo
Sundari: Hello, Tabo. Good to hear from you. You already seem to understand the principle behind the teaching of drsta/adrsta palla, the seen and unseen results. The question to ask yourself is: What do you value most? If moksa is truly the most important thing to you, then your sadhana needs to exclude as much as possible the activities that agitate (rajas) and distract/dull (tamas) the mind and promote above all others those that promote sattva – peace of mind. The nature of the mind is sattva, so one cannot gain more sattva.For self-inquiry to work and self-knowledge to obtain in the mind, rajas and tamas have to be brought into balance with sattva – or you can forget about moksa, as it will not obtain in a rajasic/tamasic mind.
Perhaps you need a better understanding of how the gunas function and what they are. The word “guna” means rope, aptly named because the three gunas are bound to each other and they bind the person to objects. As the components that make up the dharma field, the gunas govern the creation of everything. This of course includes the vasanas that motivate the individual and the individual’s relative nature (svadharma) that gives rise to “their” conditioning. This conditioning is then reinforced by their environment, lifestyle and life experiences, which is also made up of the gunas. So managing the gunas is nothing less than understanding how to relate to the totality of your environment, the gross and subtle body. The gunas are always present and operating on the jiva because the causal body is there conditioning the jiva, or subtle body, at all times other than in deep sleep or nirvikalpa samadhi. Once the self is actualised as one’s true nature, the gunas still function the same way, but they no longer condition the mind.
The gunas are programmed ways of thinking and acting. They are totally predictable. All the gunas build on themselves, so rajas will create more rajas, as will tamas creates more tamas, and sattva more sattva. Make sure you understand the thoughts and emotions that are typical of each guna because all thoughts and feelings are guna-driven. See which ones are sattvic, which are tamasic and which are rajasic. Understand the implications of identifying with each kind of energy and the thoughts they cause. Start observing all objects (the world around you, or your environment) from this perspective. Examine every aspect of your lifestyle, from diet, work, money, relationships, home, entertainment, etc. to see if it produces peace of mind or not and is in keeping with the goal of moksa. If not, make the changes that reduce rajas and tamas and promote sattva.
The gunas all work together, and at any given time one of them will predominate. Rajas and tamas are inseparable. I call them the “terrible twins.” When rajas is operating, the mind will be projecting outwards, driven by desire or fear, agitated. When tamas is operating the mind is introverted, dull, in denial or depressed. When the mind is sattvic, it is clear, logical, discriminating, peaceful and happy. This is the mind you want for moksa. The gunas are just the programmes that run the individual (and everything else). They are a problem if you do not have the knowledge of how the apparent reality functions or if you identify with them. For instance, if you find yourself saying, “I am rajasic,” or, “I am tamasic today,” you are identified with them. The person may be rajasic/tamasic today, but you, awareness, are not. Remember, you are the knower of the person; therefore you are the knower of the gunas.
Other than gaining the knowledge of what the gunas are and how they operate, which is half the battle won, you can do a great deal to manage them through self-knowledge. This means that you know that there are appropriate actions to maintain peace of mind for the jiva. Once you find yourself acting a particular guna out, just observe what is going on. Trace back the train of events, thoughts and feelings to their source and identify what triggered them. This is how you determine the seen and unseen results of any action. Life will give you many opportunities to work this out if you look at everything in the light of this knowledge. As a person you have relative free will to choose what action to take to achieve a desired result, and thus success in the world is possible.
The practise of knowledge, the “work,” is keeping an eye on the person and his/her likes and dislikes. Make a note of the guna and adjust it in light of the kind of mind you are trying to create. Make peace of mind your aim at all costs. Each time you do this, it will get easier to manage the gunas and it will be easier to recognise them quicker when they appear as your likes and dislikes. Consider the likes and dislikes appearing in your mind as red flags, ways to identify the vasanas that keep a particular programme running.
You have already established that the rajasic desire to work overtime to gain more money depletes your energy, leaving you drained and unfulfilled – tamas. The same with watching bad TV – it leaves you empty and dull, tamas again.What do you value more, peace of mind or more money and escapist distractions? You have to decide. There is no fine print for liberation. All lifestyle issues have to be addressed in the light of self-knowledge.
I could give you many examples of seen and unseen results, but you need to work this out in your own life by examining your lifestyle in the light of self-knowledge and work out what you need to change in order to create a mind capable of inquiry. Vedanta is not a big parent telling you what to do. Vedanta simply makes practical suggestions about how to live in such a way that your mind is prepared for inquiry and in harmony with Isvara, the field of existence. If you make choices that are not in harmony with the natural laws, the results (karma) come to the subtle body, and the mind is not able to concentrate on self-inquiry.
~ Namaste, Sundari