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The Gunas Change but They Don’t Change
The question: Is Isvara as pure sattva (the intelligent cause of Creation), a principle subject to change or is it changeless?
If we look into Isvara as: (1) sattva, the intelligent cause, (2) the material cause (tamas), (3) the energetic cause (rajas), (4) the precise laws by which the universe is governed and (5) the physical manifest universe (jagata) – which, if any, of these factors are not subject to change?
Evidently jagata does change. But how about the laws governing jagata? I would say it does. But what is more intriguing is Isvara as pure sattva, the intelligent cause! Is it a changing or changeless principle? To begin with, I mentioned that this subtle analysis about the “apparent” nature of Isvara is not really relevant to self-knowledge, although a very nice inquiry.
I mentioned that I am inclined to believe that Isvara as the intelligent cause IS subjected to change because there is no such thing as pure sattva, Maya, the fundamental prakrit are the three energies constituted by their different proportions.
I also said that Isvara in its most fundamental apparent nature is awareness reflected on an aspect of Maya conditioned by a huge proportion of sattva. But these proportions are not fixed but changing, otherwise scriptures would not say Isvara = awareness reflected on satya-pradhana-prakrit. If Maya-prakrit is of the nature of change, Isvara may also be of the same nature. What are your thoughts about this logic?
Ramji: First of all, the gunas – Maya – are material forces. As such they are inert, which is to say incapable of change. Awareness is also incapable of change, because it is unborn, i.e. eternal. It is nirguna awareness, i.e. without qualities. But when Maya is added to awareness, it seemingly becomes a Creator and time begins. Time simply means change. Maya seemingly breaks up awareness into discrete bits that are never the same from moment to moment, so it is possible to measure the distance between events. So awareness plus Maya is awareness with qualities (saguna). Qualities change, i.e. evolve. At the same time they are eternal because they change predictably. Fire, for instance, is always hot although there are many different temperatures. So the gunas change but they don’t change. It’s all a matter of one’s perspective.