Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


Here is a place to linger, to let your intellect roam. Aatmaavrajanam is being written as a progressive study and, as such, can be read like a book. Anyone arriving at any time can simply start at the very first post and work their way through at their own pace. Please take time to read the info tabs and ensure you don't miss a post, by subscribing to the blog. Interaction is welcomed. Don't be a spectator - be a participator!

TrigunaaH; the Veils

Hari Om 

Each 'Choose-day' we will investigate the process by which we can reassess our activity and interaction with the world of plurality and become more congruent within our personality.

KINDLE LIFE. We continue exploring points raised by HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda-ji in the publication of this name. Remember, you can purchase, (very economically!), the book from  Chinmaya Mission Publications or if you prefer, the Amazon Link. Thus you can read Gurudev's words directly and bring your own voice to the discussion.

Chapter 21 talks of THE PATH OF DIVINITY. It touches upon the nature of the path, picking up from the chapter on our 'essence-tial' nature, given last week. That is to say, our very essence is divine.

We are held back from recognising our divinity by all the veils and smokescreens of our desires and thoughts internally, as well as all the illusion presented to us externally. The amazing variety that we call 'the human being' comes about because of all the colourations from these influences. According to the scriptures, it is the peeling away of the veils, the 'demisting' of the desires and thoughts, which is the primary goal of mankind - if we but knew it!

What determines the path a person will take in life and what is it that brings them closer to the spiritual purpose? Vedantic theory tells us that there are three categories of 'psychological makeup'. A great deal of study will be given to these conditions. Here is the 'briefing'.  

सत्त्व/sattva is that of the pure and noble; रजस् /rajas is the realm of the passionate and agitated; तमः/tamas is where we find the dull, the lazy and unmotivated. Rarely is any one personality wholly encompassed by one of these conditions.  Majority mankind is made up of all three, with one or other dominating at different times and for different periods of time. Thus we get the endless permutations which make up human nature, informing character, behaviour and, consequently, the society around them.

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Tamas is the gross quality, a condition of inertia. Under its influence, we have no interest in the world around, there is carelessness, lack of commitment, no goals formed or sought.

Rajas is of the quality of action. In this condition the mind works whirlingly, the emotions can rage, desires loom large, ambitions fire and the BMI knows no peace.

Sattva is the subtlest quality. In this condition lies balance, tranquillity. The creative self, contemplative and caring, manifests.

Note that these गुणाः/gunaaH (qualities) relate to the 'mind' part of the antaH-karana. The intellect part has two further qualities. Intellect, remember, is used for analysis and discernment.  When this is turned to the world of objects (such is the case of the material/objective sciences) it is known as  श्तूल-बुद्धि/shtuula-buddhi, 'gross intellect'.  When that same intellect, though, is applied subjectively (turned inwards) to research and determine what is spirit and what is matter, transcendental or terrrestrial, it is referred to as  सूक्ष्म-बुद्धि/suukshma-buddhi, 'subtle intellect'.

It is this which can mark out why someone who is otherwise brilliant at material sciences and the secular things of life can fail to comprehend fully the importance of spiritual pursuit. Brilliance does not of itself give fullness. It is not that the intellect is dull; rather it has been honed for a single use and then, when attempts are made to apply it to another task, it may well fail us. An adze used only for trimming wood can be a rough tool when applied to silken cloth.

Whilst there is rudimentary intellect within the entire animal kingdom, it is mankind alone who has honed his intellectual 'sword' to such an extent he can move beyond his own physical parameters. All too often these are perceived as being external. Some though, manage to sharpen the subtle extremely well. This is when divinity starts to be recognised. Even glimpsing this though, each must now deal with the curtains of their gunas. All our thoughts arise from our deep desires and these are governed by the gunas. In analysing and nullifying these, the glimpsed divinity starts to unfurl.

It is important to appreciate that succeeding in maintaining a predominantly sattvic condition, living as purely and nobly as we can, that we are not free of desires. Indeed, the desire to become sattvic and to stay that way can become its own hurdle! In the sattvic condition, however, we stand a greater chance of brushing aside these veiling desires, becoming more ego-perceptive and corrective.  Gurudev remarks in this chapter that in the sattvic state, our desires are as smoke over a fire - a puff of wind or a strong breath is all that is required to remove the smoke and see the flames in their glory. In the rajaasic state, the desires are more insistent and the ego more extant. Everything is perceived more strongly.  Gurudev's analogy is that of dust covering a mirror.  Breath is not enough to remove it; some elbow grease is required! Rajaasic personalities must make more determined efforts to attain spiritual purpose. Then we have the tamasic one, who is stubborn, entirely egoistic. The spiritual kernal is well veiled here; Gurudev's example is that of foetus in the womb. It exists but must go through a long and not necessarily easy effort to be brought forth.

All who allow religion/Philosophy to enter their lives will fund the wherewithal to make the changes in their states and to rise above their gunas. All the sacred paths of the world offer this. To rise to the highest level of our humanity into that which is called as sattvic. In Vedantic tradition, there is further to go. To release even the profoundly worthy sattvic veils and move into pure divinity.

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