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Rajas and Tamas
Simon: That would be an interesting paradigm shift for Western psychology, to measure the effect of Self-knowledge on the gunas.
Sundari: For sure! It will never happen.
Simon: I definitely have a Sanskrit vasana. I believe I have found my final teachers in you and James, which is such a relief. Still, I’d possibly like to learn to write it, as I find it so beautiful to look at. Would the Home Study course teach that?
Sundari: I am glad you feel that way. The Home Study course does not set out to teach Sanskrit specifically, but it is Sanskrit-intense and explains the use of the terms. I will ask James if there is a specific Sanskrit course he recommends.
Simon: Currently, mano nigrahah, trigunavibhava yoga is rocking my world, along with all the others of course. The body is easy because it is what it is on any given day, more tamasic lately, as I damaged a rib out surfing, but still gardening a wee bit. The subtle body is tricky, as there can be so many different combinations.
Sundari: The body is what it is, but it is a great boon to peace of mind to understand how it functions. Everything happens in the subtle body, never in the gross body. As the body is just meat and inert, there is no karma for it; karma seems to take place in the physical body because the physical body is “attached” to the subtle body. The gross body is a function of the aubtle body, although it can affect the subtle body (mind) when unhealthy, sick or in pain.The subtle body has a similar relationship to the gross body as consciousness has to mithya (the apparent reality). There is an interdependence from the jiva’s perspective, but not from consciousness’s point of view, because they exist in different orders of reality, that of the real and the apparently real.
Simon: Naturally, buddhi is sattvic, ahamkara is rajasic and manas is tamasic, right?
Sundari: It would be incorrect to assign one guna to any one function of the subtle body. All three gunas are always present, at all times and in all things mithya-related. You can never separate out the gunas, because you need all three gunas to function in the world. You could say there is only one guna with three different functions, all of which have an upside and a downside. One guna always dominates, but with varying levels of influence from the other two. The buddhi can be totally clouded by tamas as much as rajas, such as when emotion becomes your way of thinking.
Simon: If sattva predominates, then ahamkara and manas are allowed to do their dharmic thing. But if either rajas or tamas predominates, then buddhi becomes a function of either, and Maya may then begin to operate.
Sundari: Yes. Essentially, the nature of the subtle body-mind is sattva, which is why we say you cannot get more sattvic, only less rajasic/tamasic. When rajas and tamas predominate, they cover up sattva like clouds cover up the sun, but it is still shining. Rajas and tamas are only a problem when out of balance with sattva. When sattva dominates, it automatically activates the positive aspects of rajas and tamas. But bear in mind, even the positive aspects of rajas and tamas can be used adharmically.
For instance, we need enough rajas to act. When rajas is in balance with sattva, sattvic rajas makes the mind focused, efficient, capable, confident. But it can also make it negatively focused: cunning and sly, using sattva (intelligence) to get what it wants. It is intelligence in the service of ignorance. Psychopaths are usually highly intelligent and fit this profile. So does Trump and other demagogues like him. Trump is intelligent (sattvic), but his intelligence is in the service of rajas and tamas, which makes him a crass and cunning bully (tamas) who has power because he knows just how to manipulate weak (tamasic) people’s conscious and unconscious fears.
Sattvic tamas is necessary for sleep and endurance; it makes the mind chilled, taking it easy. But sattvic tamas can be induced by drugs, alcohol, smoking, food, sex – any pleasure/reward addiction – which is not true sattva, because it is dependent on the short-term effect of the drug of choice. Genuine sattvic rajas or tamas is the result of a purified mind and/or the result of guna management, mind control based on Self-knowledge.
Simon: I’ve been working a lot on my mindset practice, particularly my pain points. I’ve then been consciously allowing those pain points to be triggered; for example, the comparison samskara with music or the relationship samskara with friends. This way I’m ready to see how the buddhi has become a function of the ego investing in some outside object. In this way, it’s safe, as I’m ready to apply the knowledge and the opposite thought to burn up that ignorance.
Sundari: Good practice, but whose pain points?
Simon: It’s hard to get my head around the idea that there is only one body. What are all these apparent billions of jivas then? I can see that I’m non-separate from them when I rehearse the location-of-objects teaching in my brain, but they are still said to exist.
Sundari: Yes, the other jivas apparently exist, but who is speaking here? Clearly, the jiva identified with the body-mind. You would not ask this question if you were thinking as the Self, because you would know that all objects are you, but you are not the objects. As the Self we know that all that we see is the Self, there are no “real” others. There is only one eternal subtle body, the jivatman, appearing as many seemingly unique non-eternal subtle bodies. But if we provisionally accept duality, let’s see if we can dismiss duality with non-duality.
The other jivas and the world exists, we are not denying that. But you have had no contact with others or the world, ever. You may touch objects, but you only ever experience everything in your mind. No sense organ is capable of perceiving the substance of all objects, consciousness. The senses are only capable of perceiving the properties of objects (sound, colour, shape, texture, taste, smell), and not an actual existent object. Name and form may hide the true nature of existence, but it does not alter it. With the Vedanta pramana we can investigate the nature of reality through self-inquiry by analyzing the relationship between name, form and consciousness.
As James asks, if you look at the Creation, where does it exist? Have you ever actually seen a Creation? No. You have only experienced the objects that appear to you at any moment, and these objects are not separate from the thoughts that make them up. Creation is only an idea, a thought. It’s not that the world around you isn’t there. It’s there, but you’ve never lived there. You’ve never even been there for a visit. The only place you’ve ever been is inside your mind. When a thought appears in you, the mind imagines the totality of objects by inference, but those objects are never directly experienced. All that is directly experienced is you, consciousness, and the properties of objects. The only issue left to resolve is whether or not consciousness or matter is primary. Which came first? When we use the word “first,” we mean which stands alone? Does matter exist prior to consciousness so that we can still have matter without consciousness? No. You cannot separate an object from the consciousness of the object.
Simon: Lately, I have an inclination not to do as much as before. I’m trying to let the doing happen a bit more; I don’t know, it’s a bit difficult to explain. What matters the most is the knowledge, and just for now I’m putting it before everything else. And it’s quite amazing, for sure rajas and tamas come and call me a loser and all that, but I just smile and smoke them on the spot, again and again. Who needs tobacco when you got rajas and tamas? :-)
Sundari: A sure sign that the knowledge is working is the tendency to do less, to be objective about the gunas. Once you know how they operate, they are so easy to predict! Doing becomes effortless and stress-free. Rajas is a tough one to bring under control. I always say it is like a wild horse that needs training. If you don’t train it, the wild horse is riding you. The world judges tamas because people define themselves by doing, action. Pay it no heed. Your response is in perfect sync with the practice of Self-knowledge. That’s the work, well done!
Simon: On that note, what about sugar then? I’ve become super sensitive to sugar since India, but still I indulge. This must be just as bad as smoking or ingesting any other poison, right? I guess sugar is more confusing, as it overlaps the adharmic action of ingesting poison with the dharmic action of sustaining the body.
Sundari: Sugar is a poison and it does not sustain the body, although the body does need some glucose. The old die-hard thinking is that it runs better on glucose, exclusively current research has proved that it does not.
Simon: Yes, I know I’m the Self, but I still have binding vasanas; I must be very vigilant.
Sundari: You don’t have binding vasanas as the Self. Maybe Simon has binding vasanas because he is still identified with the subtle body, but the vasanas belong to the Isvara, as does the jiva. They are mithya.
Simon: So I’m not sure if I was to die tonight perhaps some vasanas would sprout, and I’d go again, which would be okay too. Why does Vedanta maintain that once moksa obtains one cannot take another body? I understand that there wouldn’t be any more vasanas to sprout, but who’s to say perhaps it is when the mortal coil shuffles off is when the rubber really truly meets the road.
Sundari: Who dies, Simon? What difference does it make if “your” vasana load comes back for another round? First of all, it would not be Simon, and secondly, as the Self, you never reincarnated in the first place. You are unborn and undying, remember? Which is why you don’t come “back” when the body dies and moksa has obtained. You were never “here” or “anywhere” to begin with. You are everywhere always. There is only you. The projection of Maya is not real. It is a dreamworld projected on the screen of awareness, you.
Simon: I was referring to chitta. What I meant is, how come chitta, memory, is not included in the triangular diagrams of the Self? Not important really, I’m just curious.
Sundari: Chitta, memory, is a function of the subtle body, the mind.
Simon: Would it be correct to say that the pramoda vritti is most associated with the sattvic guna, priya with tamas and moda with rajas?
Sundari: Priya is desire-based, so primarily rajas, projection; moda is less so because you have obtained what you want but have not yet “consumed” the experience, so less rajas but approaching sattva, and pramoda is the short-lived bliss of “consummation,” so to speak. If there has been a great deal of rajas involved in getting what you want – like, say, working hard to get laid – following hot on the heels of pramoda will be tamas. Excess rajas always results in tamas.
Simon: LOL. Yes, the old yogis are a sorry bunch, for the most part. It’s funny because I could never figure out why I never wanted to be involved in the yoga community, even though I like the practice, but now, as knowledge obtains, I see why; the Self has always been calling me home.
Sundari: When you are ready for the homecoming to Self, nothing will stop it.
~ Much love, Sundari