>>>>The Three Gunas

The Three Gunas

In ancient Vedanta, and some other philosophies, the entire phenomenal world exists as a mixture of three major qualities.  These are known as the three gunas.  Each one represents a certain character.  They are Rajas, Tamas, and Satvas.


Rajas represents change.  It is the force of change in any situation.  For example, acceleration and deceleration are both forces of change.  Tamas represents inertia.  Like in Newtonian physics, a force remains the same in direction and force unless another force acts upon it.  Finally, Sattvas is equilibrium.  Modern physics finds that these three forces exist at a molecular level as well.


Great.  Molecular forces affect our lives.  How is this useful?  In regular everyday life, they help one to read and manage the different forces acting in one’s experience.  We are confronted with a variety of situations in our daily lives which demand our attention.  The mixture of gunas in your life affect how you react.  Some examples help.


A predominantly Tamasic person explains everything in such a way that nothing is required.  These are the people who often say, “It has always been that way,” or, “One person can’t change anything.”  Whereas, the more Rajasic person tends to describe things in a way that motivates action.  They say, “This needs to be fixed,” or, “That really makes my blood boil.”


Finally, the Satvic person usually characterizes things in terms of how they sustain the status quo.  For them, all is good, or right in the world.  Here, one may become confused between satvic and tamasic.  Remember the tamasic requires no action, while the satvic encourages sustaining of what is right action.  For the sattvic, “the world is just, and fair and reasonable, one must have patience to see it and encourage it.”


Thus, the sattvic person may appear like the others at any given time.  What is different is the intent.  The satvic person only wants to act in harmony with the universe.  An example will help.  Rajas, Sattvas, and Tamas all work in an office.  The boss issues a directive that all TPS reports are to include a new cover sheet.


Tamas just ignores the directive.  He waits for a personal invitation or reprimand.  Rajas aggressively supports the new reports and tells all of his peers to use the new forms.  Sattvas quietly puts new cover sheets on the reports.  Another way of describing these qualities is Dissipate, Change, and Sustain.  Tamas dissipates the force, Rajas changes it, and Sattvas sustains it.


Now we come to the interesting part.  How can one use this in his or her life.  Whenever we encounter a situation we have a choice of how to view it and how to react.  If we want to change our lives, we look at the event as a disruption.  When we are indifferent, we view the occurrence as relatively meaningless.  And finally when we want things to remain the same, we see the situation as a continuation of the past.


The best example I can think of is a relationship.  One who is tamasic never wants to do anything in the relationship.  He or she just explains everything away as the same.  The rajasic person always wants to improve the relationship.  Everything is always a motivation to act.  This person constantly seeks to change him or herself, and the partner.  Finally, the satvic person wants to sustain the relationship.  He or she is happy with the partnership only seeking to keep it flowing.


When you are in a situation, determine what your motivating factor is, do you wish to sustain, change or dissipate?  Then look at the situation in a way that lets you express your individuality.  For example in many relationships I have been completely rajasic, always wanting to improve myself or my poor partner.  In others, I have been tamasic, letting the relationship expire naturally.  I seek the satvic relationship, as I would guess, we all do.


One final caveat.  No one person or situation is ever completely one guna.  They are always a mixture of the three.

By | 2024-05-15T14:25:39+00:00 March 15th, 2007|Perspectives|0 Comments

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