One Year Course

Vedanta is an impersonal method of self inquiry. The first stage is listening with an open mind, setting aside your personal views. Listening without judgement is difficult but not impossible. If you find yourself deciding whether or not you like what you hear, you are not listening. There is nothing to like or dislike, only something to know. If you listen without prejudice, the words will make complete sense, but if you are only looking for an explanation of reality that fits your views, Vedanta is not for you. If you surrender to this process, you will succeed.

Lesson 7 - The Ordinary Person

The Individual and the Total

In the last chapter we discussed the macrocosm, Maya and Isvara, the Creator of the field in which awareness appears as objects. This chapter discusses the microcosm, Jiva, the individual and its relationship to Isvara.

Definition of Jiva

The Jiva is awareness with a Subtle Body. Jiva is an eternal principle, not a specific person.  It is actually pure awareness, Paramatma.

The eternal jiva has three levels of knowledge. (1) There is the jiva who thinks it is a person. This jiva is often called the doer or the human being, the one identified with objects. Humans who don’t know about awareness are called samsari’s, because they are completely caught up in the web of samsara, the apparent reality. (2) The jiva that knows awareness but does not know what it means to be awareness and is still controlled by its vasanas. It is sometimes called a self realized jiva. Vedanta says it has ‘indirect’ self knowledge. (3)The jiva that knows it IS awareness, what it means to be awareness, and whose vasanas have been neutralized by self knowledge is said to be a liberated or enlightened jiva (jivanmukta). The Bhagavad Gita says it is a person with ‘steady’ wisdom who is described in the last chapter. I call it a self actualized jiva, a jiva with ‘direct’ knowledge. The liberated person, the self realized person and the samsari have a common identity as awareness

The one eternal Jiva manifests sequentially as three individual jivas according to the state that it experiences:

1) As the waking state entity. In this state its mind is totally extroverted.  It is hypnotized by duality.  It chases and consumes experiences because it is controlled by its vasanas.

2) As the dreamer, the ‘shining one,’ awareness with a Subtle Body, illumining the dream state.  The Subtle Body is turned inward in this state. Dream experience is vasanas outpicturing.  Both waking and dream state jivas are experiencing entities. In the waking state Jiva identifies with the doer so the doer is generally not seen as an object, although during an epiphany it is often objectified. In the dream state there is also identification and the doer/ego, may also appear as an object illumined by reflected awareness, the Subtle Body. The dreamer may see the waking jiva going about its business, walking, talking, eating, etc.  The dreamer is similar in some respects to the waker but enjoys unique powers.  These powers are inherent in the dream state and do not belong to the dreamer. The events appearing in the dream are just waking state events that have become vasanas.

3)  As the sleeper in the deep sleep state.  The sleeper is ‘almost enlightened’ because it experiences the limitlessness and bliss of awareness but lacks knowledge of what it is experiencing owing to the absence of intellect in deep sleep.

The Subtle Body disappears in deep sleep state as does the Microcosmic Causal Body, the personal subconscious which belongs to the jiva and produces the jiva’s karma.  The deep sleep state is defined as a state with no mental activity.  It is the same for everyone because the personal subconscious is dissolved into The Macrocosmic Causal Body when the waking jiva sleeps.  Deep sleep is the presence of Tamas alone.  Rajas and Sattva are dormant in this state.  There is no sense of individuality in this state because the Subtle Body of the individual is not there to be conditioned. The Macrocosmic Causal Body, another name for Isvara, is the deep sleep state.

Although the nature of both the jiva and Isvara is awareness, both the jiva and Isvara are inconstant factors with reference to awareness. Jiva is inconstant because it changes from state to state and because self knowledge removes the notion that it is a limited entity, revealing its nature to be pure awareness.  Isvara in the role of creator is inconstant because logic and scripture…which is just science…informs us that it disappears at the end of the creation cycle; whatever is created will be destroyed.  Isvara in the role of creator is eternal with reference to the jiva but not with reference to pure awareness, the constant factor.

The dream state has two aspects: waking dream and sleep dream.  It is called the pratibasika state, the subjective state of reality.  It is jiva’s creation, a vasana-induced interpretation of reality.  It is not created directly by Isvara although the raw material…the material elements and other jivas…on which jiva’s interpretation is based belongs to Isvara. Ultimately both jiva’s interpretation and Isvara’s material is all Isvara, but to arrive at that understanding…which is tantamount to liberation…the jiva has to understand what belongs to it and what belongs to Isvara so that it can be free of both itself and Isvara.

Knowledge to Prepare the Subtle Body

The Subtle Body is the instrument of experience and knowledge. Awareness is not an experiencer or a knower. It becomes an experiencing knowing entity when it is associated with the Subtle Body. A jiva does not know who it is because wrong knowledge brought about by Maya clouds and disturbs the Subtle Body to such a degree that right knowledge cannot establish itself. Therefore, it needs to be prepared to receive and assimilate the knowledge.

As we have seen, an individual jiva’s fundamental problem is a scattered and/or a dull mind: extroverting vasanas focus panoramic non-specific awareness into a narrow beam of attention and cause it to hop more or less uncontrollably from one object to another. When our minds are extroverted we gain unsatisfying snippets of experience and diverse bits of knowledge but, lacking an overarching vision to integrate them, peace of mind eludes us.

Stage 1 - Ignorance

And when an individual has lived for long out of the knowledge of the light of awareness, a secondary problem develops: a structural distortion takes place in the Subtle Body which compromises its natural geometry. A healthy Subtle Body is conflict free because the three inner centers, the intellect, ego and the mind are united in the pursuit of a particular goal. But when the pressure of the extroverting vasanas becomes too intense and persists over time, inner conflict develops.

If you find yourself thinking one thing, saying something different and doing something else you can be sure you are out of yoga, union. You are not ‘together’ to use a common expression. If you know something is wrong but you do it anyway, you are out of yoga. In a healthy Subtle Body, the Intellect rules the roost. It stands apart, offers sage counsel to the doer and refuses to identify with unhealthy emotions. If it plays handmaiden to the ego or the emotions and provides them with clever rationalizations and justifications for adharmic behavior, it means the Subtle Body is out of yoga. Or if, believing that emotions are the problem, the intellect over-analyzes everything to such a point that it becomes paralyzed concerning action and looses itself wandering in exhausting layers of mental abstraction, the Subtle Body is unhealthy. If you believe that feelings are more valuable than ideas and find yourself longing for love or more ‘meaningful’ and ‘moving’ experiences, your Subtle Body is unhealthy. If you act impulsively without concern for your feelings or the feelings of others, the Subtle Body is out of balance. If you stubbornly refuse to accept your lot, it means your Subtle Body needs work. If the war between your spiritual side and your material side is keeping you up at night you need yoga. And finally, if you are always trying to get a feeling of ‘connection’ with people or your work, or anything else for that matter, it means you are out of yoga. Yoga yokes the three centers to the self.

Vedanta doesn’t cook up a lot of fancy psychological terms for dysfunctional behavior and give you a nice complex to add to your problems. Nor do we send you off with a pocketful of pills to set you right. We proscribe yoga. Mind you, yoga is not for seriously disturbed individuals, schizophrenics, manic depressives and their ilk. Seeking is a more or less benign neurosis and yoga works well to cure it.

Conventional psychology pokes around in the colon of the past looking for clues to your bad feelings. Presumably, if you can discover the cause it will cure them. But we say that negative emotions stem from a single cause: you are not getting what you want. The logic behind this statement is obvious: when you are getting what you want you feel good and you stop seeking. We do not chase objects when we feel good. We enjoy what we have. Please remember, ‘objects’ means people, situations, feelings, thoughts…literally everything other than you.

I am going to take a small detour from the tradition at this point because there is one non-traditional idea that makes a bit of sense and helps to understand the subjective ‘self,’ the Subtle Body. When I say non-traditional I mean that it is not mentioned in the source texts. Actually it was cooked up in the last one hundred years and found its way into the Vedanta world but I will let it stand for now.

If the three inner centers, the mind (emotions and feelings), the intellect and the ego are out of yoga it stands to reason that there would be a dedicated yoga for each center. Therefore some say that devotional yoga corrects emotional problems by converting emotions into devotion for God, knowledge yoga corrects thinking problems by teaching the intellect how to discriminate between the self and the objects appearing in it and karma yoga takes care of the ego, the doer, by revealing the nature of action and converting the individual from a subjective to an objective view of life.

However, the texts only mention two ‘yogas’ or paths, action i.e. experience and knowledge. The topic of devotion is covered extensively but it is never considered to be a unique path because devotion is common to every willful endeavor and because all the rituals, including the mental rituals that evoke devotion, fall under the topic of karma.

In any case, the base yoga, the yoga without which no other yoga is worth a hill of beans, is karma yoga. It takes care of your bad feelings by purifying vasanas that extrovert the mind and cause it to pursue objects. Good feelings are not a problem for self inquiry unless they are thought to belong to objects.

Karma yoga works on the ego. When an unenlightened person says ‘I’, he or she means the ego, the doer. The doer is playing against a stacked deck. It thinks it is inadequate, incomplete, limited and separate from the objects that present themselves to it and it seeks to complete itself by obtaining said objects. When it gets what it wants it feels adequate and complete. This much we know. Its pursuit of objects is in terms of subtle and gross actions. Since karma means anything that moves or changes, action includes thoughts and feelings too.

The Doer-Enjoyer

The doer’s basic psychology is laughably simple: it does what it does to enjoy the result. When the desired object is obtained the doer switches to enjoyer mode until the enjoyment wears off…as it does…whereupon it shifts back into doer mode and pursues other results that it hopes will give it pleasure and restore its sense of satisfaction. The doer, irrespective of the age of the body, is an eternal child. It wants what it wants when it wants it the way it wants it…or it gets upset. Depending on its perceived successes and failures it is either an eternal optimist or a grumpy pessimist. It does not know that there are no bad outcomes.

In the best of all possible worlds the doer’s approach to life would not be unworkable but unfortunately samsara is not the best of all possible worlds. Even an infant, whose situation for enjoyment is more or less ideal in so far as loving parents constantly pander to its every need, often in an attempt to satisfy their own sense of incompleteness, learns very quickly that the world does not produce the object of its desires on demand. Its reactions set the stage for predictable emotional patterns that dog it throughout its adult life.

Vedanta psychology depersonalizes suffering. Let’s not pretend that any of us are unique psychologically. It is impossible to be unique because of the way Maya structures reality. Maya is lazy and very conservative. It does not invent a special psychology for every human. One size fits all; one Gross, Subtle and Causal Body functions the same way in everyone. Our psychology works for anyone because it applies to everyone. Getting the ego to accept this fact is another story altogether, owing to its sense of specialness. We don’t say you aren’t unique. It is true that no two snowflakes are alike…but they are all just snowflakes. Uniqueness gets you nowhere. It means nothing. It is pure vanity. We say you are snow.

The ego is little more than its desires and fears. There is nothing particularly wrong with it and (apparently) nothing can be done about it. Desire is a bad feeling. It is a statement of lack. Forget the romantic view. There is nothing romantic about wanting. It is the most boring and commonplace of emotions. Desire is suffering. The Buddha’s whole teaching started with this fact.

Stage 2 – Desire and Fear

Desire is unconscious. You don’t wake up in the morning and think ‘I should want something.’ You wake up wanting something. You plot your actions…your day…according to what you want or what you want avoid. Perhaps you don’t plot at all. Perhaps you are just mindlessly impelled to act. Desire is related to what you value. You desire what you value.

Desire and fear are the same thing. They are ignorance in action. My wife calls them the ‘terrible twins.’ I call them ‘incestuous bedfellows.’ They are always wrapped in a warm embrace. When I fear something, I want to avoid it. When I desire something, I fear I won’t get it. For instance, the fear of dying is the desire to live. Desire is a single current of energy that is with us always. Seen from one end it is positive and from the other negative. Fear is a negative desire and desire a positive fear. It only remains to be seen how to deal with it. As one of our premier texts says, “It is an intractable foe” although it need not be. Karma yoga is how we deal with it.

The desire-ridden ego faces many inconvenient truths, two of which stand out. In the first place, sadly it does not realize that it can remove the desire without having to foray into the dharma field to obtain the object meant to remove it. If you have doubt about the desirability of desire, Vedanta calls your attention to the fact that an object is desirable precisely because it removes the desire for it, not for its own sake. Second, it is regrettable that the dharma field, which is meant to supply the desired objects, is not terribly concerned with whether or not Mr. Ego gets what it wants when it wants it the way it wants it. In other words it is not a doting needy parent. It is quite fickle. It can fulfill your desire, ignore it or give you a good whack.

In the fullness of time it more or less gives me what I want if I act appropriately…or not…but the ‘fullness of time’ and ‘more or less’ are not concepts that a needy wanting ego particularly appreciates. I want it and I want it now!

This situation sets the stage for a dysfunctional personality. An important fact about desire, which everyone should know but which many are loath to consider, is: desire alone is not enough to produce the object you want. Yes, it sometimes seems as if the wanting manifested the object, but it didn’t, except indirectly in so far as it motivates you to do the appropriate action. Out of desire actions are offered into the dharma field and then forgotten as they wend their way through it, interacting with the various objects…people mostly…obtaining in it. When the field produces a result it seems as if you somehow have a powerful ‘magical’ connection with the field…but you don’t. You have a logical, not a magical connection.

Sad to say, the field is only interested in you in so far as your actions contribute to or contravene the aggregate desire of the field itself. And what is that desire? It is to maintain the integrity of the field. Magical thinking is a huge impediment to self knowledge and the spiritual world is rife with it. It is a caused by tamas, ignorance, and manifests as laziness. It is a quasi-criminal impulse, an attempt to avoid hard work by beating the system. It is a fantasy cooked up by an ego that has somehow convinced itself that it is special and entitled.

In any case, for karma yoga to work the ego needs to understand that the principle the field uses to deliver results is not the gratuitous desires of individuals for specific results but the needs of the total. In so far as one’s actions contribute to the needs of the total, action will generate a good result and in so far as it conflicts with the ever changing needs of the field it will deliver unwanted results or no results at all. Constant vigilance is required for success because the needs of the field are constantly changing. Failure to take the needs of others into account is a sure recipe for suffering. The essence of karma yoga is consideration for the needs of the field, meaning your physical and psychological environment.

One of the symptoms of excess desire is impulsiveness. Because complexity and uncertainty are the nature of the dharma field, a healthy Subtle Body is restrained and deliberate with respect to action. But when there is excess desire owning to an acute sense of insecurity, one often forays into the day completely unprepared for the very situations that one needs to resolve. You discover that you forgot your credit card when you get to the supermarket or two photos when you made an application for a passport. You were so eager to tick that item off your endless ‘to do’ list, a list that never shrinks no matter how fast you dispatch the chores that populate it, that you burst out the door unprepared.

Another symptom is an excessively refined sense of obligation. Yes, it is important to discharge your duties in a timely and appropriate fashion but if you find yourself saying that you “have to” or are “supposed to” do things that are not in any way required for the basic maintenance of life, you need karma yoga. This symptom is extremely common in so-called ‘developed’ societies, where luxuries have become necessities. You may feel you ‘need’ backup backup backup hard drives because you feel obligated not to lose a single stupid video clip, one you will never watch again. Or you can never throw away even broken and useless objects…waste not, want not! Your cabinets, closets and drawers are so stuffed with the flotsam and jetsam of the consumer society that you can’t move in your own flat. You can’t stick with your list when you get to the supermarket…the impulse items cunningly displayed at every turn literally jump into your shopping cart. You think, “Life’s a bitch. I need to treat myself; I’m worth it.” Or you don’t even think, your hand just grabs an attractive package. If you feel bad because you ‘could have’ got an extra t-shirt had you just stopped at the closeout sale on the way home from work when you already have thirty shirts, know that you need yoga. Obligation is just a fancy socially acceptable word used by the insecure to dress up desire.

Stage 3 - Anxiety and Control

Anxiety is another form of desire and the constant companion of Mr. Ego for a simple reason: the results of its actions are not up to it. Why is the ego subject to anxiety? Because desire is unnatural. If something is natural it is welcome to stay. But something that is unnatural is always an unwelcome guest. This is why we know that bliss is the nature of the self. If bliss was unnatural you would immediately try to rid yourself of it when you start feeling good. You don’t. You cling to it tooth and nail. But when suffering comes…even the pettiest irritation…you immediately try to get rid of it. Happiness is natural. Suffering is unnatural. If you are suffering, you don’t know something important about yourself.

In any case I am anxious because the longer the field waits to give me what I want, the more I suffer. If I feel insecure and want my husband to tell me that he loves me, I am afflicted with anxiety. If the bills are mounting and my paycheck doesn’t come for another month, I am afflicted with anxiety. If I don’t care whether the bills are paid I will not have anxiety on that account. People can even become anxious over the idea that they are anxious! How can I get enlightened if I am anxious? When is my enlightenment going to happen?

One of the most obvious symptoms of this stage of the disease of ignorance is the issue of control. Anxiety breeds a need to control outcomes. In fact all negative emotions unconsciously tend to be manipulative, none as obvious as anger. Nobody likes conflict. Fear and anger are particular dominating energies that radiate far beyond the confines of the physical body. People in close proximity to an angry person, particularly those who are easy going or who have low self esteem will tend to accede to the demands of said person simply to avoid unpleasantness. To find oneself in a relationship with a fearful angry person is to tread in a minefield. One small mistake and the whole field explodes with anger. Once an undeveloped and unloved individual sees the benefit of these emotions, he or she may take advantage of them and become consciously manipulative. Conscious manipulation of others is sign that the natural structure of the Subtle Body has become seriously distorted.

Stage 4 - Anger

The third stage, anger, proceeds logically from the second. You will be pleased to know that you can stop blaming Mom and Pop, the church and the state, the media, or your big nose etc. for your anger. The cause is very simple: the dharma field is not giving you what you want. When desire is obstructed, it turns to anger. It does not really require a big event…your husband runs off with his secretary…to trigger it; it can be something very simple…a driver who is slow to respond to a green light…or just the idea that you are not going to get what you want. Anger is very destructive, although it has its upsides too. In the right situations it can actually help you achieve what you want…although using anger in this way is not advisable owing to the long term effects on your health; the molecules of this emotion wreak havoc with the body. Not to mention what it does to your relationships with other conscious beings.

You will probably not have failed to notice that everything in life comes through others. Therefore it pays to develop loving positive relationships, at least with the people to whom we are beholden . But anger definitely needs to be managed. If it is not managed properly it will destroy you. Karma yoga a stress and anger management tool.

Anger is not socially acceptable for obvious reasons: it is a violation of dharma, which is based on the mutual expectation of individuals. You don’t want to deal with angry people and people don’t want to deal with your anger. Anger is violation of life’s most fundamental dharma, non-injury. You may define violence in physical terms…fair enough…but anger is injurious both to others and to yourself. Non-injury as defined by Vedanta is in terms of ‘thought, word and deed.’ So imagining that you are somehow spiritual because you don’t eat meat or beat your children while showing anger to others…or even thinking angry thoughts…is definitely hypocritical. I find it extremely peculiar that angry people will behave with consideration toward strangers with whom they have no personal connection and yet dump their anger on family and friends with whom they have to relate on a daily basis.


Anger is not socially acceptable and it is not acceptable to Mr. Ego because it contradicts its own good opinion of itself. So what do you do with it? You either dump it on others, which doesn’t work well, or you suppress it, which does. Temporarily. When an uncomfortable emotion is suppressed it becomes part of your ‘shadow’ to use a term that has been in vogue since the days of Jung. In our language it retreats to the Causal Body, the Subconscious. The Unconscious…the Macrocosmic vasanas…belongs to Isvara, the Total Mind. But the Subconscious is your own personal Causal Body; a little corner of Isvara’s Causal Body…a ‘subset’ is perhaps a reasonable word…where your personal karma is stored. Isvara is a wonder indeed! It is amazing because it keeps track of your actions and tailors the results of your actions to you, never confusing your karma with the karma of the other eight billion other individuals whose karma it manages. Shadow is a good word because shadows conceal, just as repression conceals your anger from you. It is ‘sub’ conscious, meaning not known. Anger is rajas and repression is rajas but tamas is behind them both. Repression is rajas because it takes energy to keep the anger away from your life so it doesn’t mess things up. Tamas is denial. Because you do not think of yourself as an angry person you have to hide this fact from yourself.

What a mess we have already…only three steps into the convoluted psychology of the ego. Though the Causal Body ‘contains’ good and bad vasanas, it is not a container in the usual sense of the word. If you have a jar you can stick valuables in it and bury it in the earth and nothing will come out until you dig it up and unscrew the lid. But the unconscious is not this kind of container. It is a porous; what goes in comes back out. You can’t see how it works…that is why I am describing it…but another sad fact is that nothing about you is hidden from the awareness or from the world because others can easily see your anger, But it is hidden from the Subtle Body ‘you,’ the person you think you are…owing to tamas, denial.

But your subconscious is also a container in the classic sense because negative emotions accumulate. Every time you express one…believing that you are working it ‘out’…it works right back ‘in’. You reinforce the vasana itself. So your tendency to get angry remains, even increases.


How do you hide the fact that you are a dysfunctional person? Tamas helps you conceal it; then it teams up with rajas. Rajas projects. So you blame something or someone. It really doesn’t matter who or what. What matters is that you believe that something other than you caused you to be the way you are. It is ‘YOUR’ fault! Nothing is your fault except ignorance. And ignorance is not something you can blame yourself for. It is working behind the scenes twenty four seven…while you somnambulate.

This is where the victim enters the drama, stage left. See how far away from our self we have journeyed…and we are still midway through the tragedy written by the greatest poet of all times…Madame Ignorance. Master Flaming Mouth has now become Mr. Poor Me, a victim of whatever. And it is little wonder that at every stage of this tragicomedy our self esteem takes another hit.

When we talk about anger we are talking about the structural Subtle Body distortion that produces more or less not stop existential suffering. Small occasional eruptions of anger in diverse circumstances are understandable and do not disqualify an individual for inquiry. But if a predictable set of circumstances produces an urgent need to have even small things a certain way, instead of taking care of the anger with karma yoga, you have a problem. Karma yoga…which we have yet to unfold…does not offer specific anger management techniques. It is a ‘global’ approach, as we shall see in the next chapter.

Another symptom of this stage is extreme busyness, a hallmark of modern life. It goes undetected as a psychological problem because society considers it a virtue. Alcohol, drugs, sweets and fat-laden food are medications of choice when rajas is predominant. Irritability, insomnia and self-obsessed righteousness around the topic of action are symptoms of excess rajas. If you believe that things should be done a certain way and that the way that you do them is only way, know for certain that your Subtle Body is firmly dominated by rajas. If you think none of this applies to you, think twice, rajas is always accompanied by an equal measure of tamas, denial.

Comparison - Matsarya

As we have indicated when consciousness appeared in the form of (apparently) conscious beings and those beings became more complex, it eventually evolved the intellect, permitting them to make choices. It is wise to carefully consider all alternatives before one acts. But when the Subtle Body is conflicted, its discriminative function becomes perverted and it is delivered squarely into the hands of rajas (agitation and stress) and tamas, (inadvertence and sloth), further miring it in duality. Most animals evolve rudimentary pecking orders based on power. In these systems physical strength and aggressiveness determine one’s place in the group. But humans have elevated the concept of status to a fine art. When I was young I lived in the Philippines for a short time. I was color blind and thought Filipinos were too but before long I realized that one of the most important parameters for distinguishing one person from another was skin color and I soon came to realize that Filipinos…and later every group on the planet…calculated skin color in microtones. If you find your house in disarray for weeks because during a remodel you cannot determine what shade of peach you want for the dining room walls or you have to spend thirty minutes in the supermarket aisle to determine which of the eighty types of shampoo would best suit your hair, know that your Subtle Body needs a bit of yoga. If you find yourself evaluating your daily progress toward a fitness goal or a financial goal or a spiritual goal (am I pure and holy yet?) know that your Subtle Body needs a bit of yoga.

Comparison is a useful function but it can easily morph into less benign forms. Jealousy, a particularly dualistic and rudimentary emotion, signifies insecurity and low self esteem. It is “I want what you have.” A less honest, hidden and particularly insidious form of dualistic thinking is envy, “I want to be like you.” As this tendency ripens and produces more dysfunctional behavior it steps out into the open, becomes obviously rajasic and changes into a competitive spirit, “I want to beat you.” And as it matures and enters its final stage it becomes totally tamasic, “I want to destroy you.”

Stage 4 – Delusion

Because it requires a lot of energy, anger is difficult to maintain, although once you get conditioned to it, you feel empty without it. It is bad energy, no doubt, but it is better than no energy. When anger collapses it may feel as if your have suddenly lost your best friend. This means that the rajasic response has become a binding vasana. There is no better example of this psychological fact than bi-polar ‘disorder.’ Bi-polar syndrome is rajas and tamas on steroids. I like the old word, manic-depression, better. It is not a euphemism. Mania is rajas and depression is tamas. They always go together. To understand it one need look no further than the tiredness that comes after hard work. The mind and body can only handle so much stress…rajas is stress. Then tamas prevails. A manic person can remain active for weeks on end with virtually no sleep but when rajas has run its course he or she will stay in bed in a dark room day and night for equally long periods. Manic depression is a good example of an extreme structural distortion in the Subtle Body. It cannot be treated with karma yoga.

A successful person is a discriminating person, one who can make rational choices based on a clear knowledge of his or values as they relate to the world around, the dharma field. To discriminate effectively the mind needs to be predominately sattvic. You will recall that Maya has three powers: veiling, projecting and revealing. Sattva is the revealing power, the energy of knowledge. It can record experience as it is, evaluate it accurately, and make decisions that further the ego’s agenda. But this is not possible in stage four.

When rajas has run its course, tamas takes over. Tamas is a veiling, concealing energy. It obscures the light of awareness as it reflects on the Subtle Body. It is responsible for confusion and delusion. Again we are not talking about the occasional dullness that comes throughout the day, a light cloud passing over the mind that causes your energy to temporarily flag. We are talking about a persistently sluggish apathetic feeling, characterized by an inability to make decisions and to do what is required on an everyday level. Suicidal thoughts appear when the Subtle Body is in the grip of structural tamas. When a jiva is in this is state…keeping in mind the fact that the self is never in any state…you are near the end of a meaningful life. Usually, by this time you are in the hands of the medical profession or lying on flattened cardboard box under the freeway with a needle in your arm. And while medicine may find some kind of legal chemical that excites the brain enough to irritate you to action and induce a goofy smile, you could be fairly said to have arrived at the state of the living dead. Your intellect is completely in the hands of tamas. When this happens, with or without meds, you lose your discrimination, enter into a state of advanced victimhood and totally lose your self esteem. The verse in one of our texts that chronicles this slippery side to ruin concludes with the comment…’and the soul perishes.’ This state is commonly referred to as the dark night of the soul and usually signifies the beginning of inquiry.

Some symptoms of this state are helplessness, boredom, apathy, mistrust, suspicion, rebelliousness, defensiveness and vanity, a feeling that no matter what you do, nothing works. It is probably not necessary to discuss each in detail but know that you have more or less arrived at the end of your tether when a feeling of stuckness more or less pervades your life. Your habits chain you and your mind becomes rigid and stubborn. You have no confidence to deal with change but dig in your heels at every opportunity and resist common sense logic. If a habit that formerly brought pleasure starts to bring pain, and you stubbornly refuse to drop it and try something else, even if it is clear that the habit is detrimental, you have hit bottom. If you blithely ignore the messages of change that life sends and react negatively to anything perceived as a threat to your world view, you are ready for karma yoga. It is the way you manage and purify these emotions.


(1) The Jiva is eternal. What are the three levels of its self Knowledge?

(2) What are the Jiva’s three states of experience and why is the waking state entity not real?

(3) Why is the deep sleeper ‘almost enlightened?’

(4) Why are both Jiva, the individual, and Isvara, the total, not real?

(5) Out of awareness Isvara creates the material world and the jivas.
Its creation is objective and value neutral. It just is. What is jiva’s

(6) When the waking state jiva doesn’t know who it is, its mind is not fit
for self knowledge. What are the two states of mind that are inimical
to self knowledge and how do they prevent it?

(7) A conflicted Subtle Body is structurally distorted. The three inner
centers do not work together. How is the distortion corrected?

(8) What is the one cause of negative emotions?

(9) What is the base yoga, what part of the Subtle Body does it
address and what does it do?

(10) What are the two bedrock negative emotions that stand behind all
emotions and how to they relate to action?

(11) Anxiety about getting what we want causes us to want to control
the outcome of our actions. Why can’t we control the results of
our actions?

(12) What is the rule the field of existence uses to apportion results to
individual wanter/doers?

(13) What emotion arises when the field of existence fails to produce the
desired result?

(14) Rajas and Tamas working together create two psychological states
are responsible for samsara i.e. suffering. What are they and how
do they work?

(15) Karma yoga creates sattva. How does it relate to this psychological
condition? And how does it relate to self inquiry i.e.


(1) The samsari who has no self knowledge, the self realized jiva with indirect knowledge and unpurified vasanas, the self actualized jiva whose knowledge is direct and whose vasanas have been rendered unbinding.

(2) Waking, dream and deep sleep. Because the waking state entity is exists temporarily. It cannot be real because it is not always present.

(3) Because it experiences the self as limitlessness and bliss but is ignorant that it is the self because the intellect is not present.

(4) Because both are inconstant factors with reference to awareness. Jiva comes and goes as it changes states and Isvara becomes unmanifest at the end of the creation cycle. Additionally, Isvara operates only on a small ‘fraction’ of awareness. It is less pervasive than awareness.

(5) Jiva’s creation is jiva’s conditioning, its vasanas, which cause it to interpret Isvara’s creation…its life circumstances…in terms of its likes and dislikes.

(6) Rajas and Tamas. Rajas extroverts and scatters the mind and tamas clouds the mind.

(7) Yoga. To align them behind a single goal, self knowledge.

(8) Not getting what I want.

(9) Karma yoga. The doer/enjoyer ego. It takes care of negative emotions by purifying vasanas that extrovert the mind and cause it to pursue objects.

(10) Desire and Fear. We pursues objects because we desire them and we are always fearful that we will not get what we want.

(11) Because the field of existence controls the results.

(12) The needs of the total.

(13) Anger (rajas) and Depression (tamas)

(14) Projection (rajas) and denial (tamas). Denial hides my uncomfortable unconscious urges and projection attributes them to someone else.

(15) It makes the mind clear and steady by transforming rajas and tamas into sattva. A steady clear mind is capable of receiving knowledge and applying it.