Paramhansa Yogananda said, “Thoughts are universally and not individually rooted; a truth cannot be created, but only perceived. The erroneous thoughts of man result from imperfections in his discernment. The goal of yoga science is to calm the mind, that without distortion it may mirror the divine vision in the universe.”
This quote offers much to meditate on, but the idea we are focusing on is that “our” thoughts are not created in our own minds.
The Bhagavad Gita (one of yoga’s main scriptures) states that there are three qualities which permeate all of creation and that these drive the consciousness of man. Our own state of being at any time will determine which of these will be dominant. It is these that determine what kind of thoughts appear in our own minds.
We can think of our own consciousness as a painting, made of three primary colors.
- White being Sattwa (sattwa guna) is uplifting, transcendent, and spiritual.
- Red being Rajas (rajo guna) is activating, energetic, moving.
- Black being Tamas (tamo guna) is darkening, inertia, heavy, material, selfish, and unhealthy.
All three qualities are always present in everything, but to varying degrees. Even a saintly person has some rajo and tamo guna.
Rajas (energy) is the link that can lift one up from tamas towards sattwa, but it can also be the force that pulls one away from sattwa towards tamas.
Do we have free will? Yes. We have the ability to choose how we view the world and how we react to it.
Let’s practice being aware of the three gunas throughout the day. Think of which of these are driving your decisions, your opinion of others, the way you view yourself.
When choosing what to eat and how to eat it, who to talk to and what to say, what to read or listen to etc., what is driving you? Where does your experience take you within the three gunas?
Last week’s homework was about giving a little more energy to those things that inspire us. Please continue to look for these opportunities also.
Most of the time, and most people in general are simply reacting to stuff that happens around them. They are like a leaf getting blown around on the surface of a lake. When we live this way, we have little control of our lives and happiness.
If you wish, you can choose to think of the three gunas as directions on your compass. See how this works throughout the day. Try to avoid tamas, try to use rajas when you need it, and try to live more in sattwa.
turiya and darshana