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!

Trigunas and You

Hari Om

'Freedays' are the 'gather our thoughts' days; Q&As; a general review of the week so far…

On Choose-days, currently, we are taking our reading from a small booklet by Swamini Vimalananda (Not Too Loose, Not Too Tight, Just Right!) which looks at the application of the three qualities (trigunas) in life.

It is very important, when reading these posts, to understand that nobody (other than very rare individuals) are ever wholly one or the other of sattvic, rajasic or tamasic. Certainly any one of us can fall into the depths of each of them for short periods of time, but for the majority of time, we are a mixture of the three; however, for each of us, there is a common denominator. Even that will change, according to where we are in life and at what stage of life we are.

Teenagers, for example, are well known for wanting to 'veg out', to avoid responsibility and to experiment with things best left unmentioned...yes, a generalisation, but not without foundation! Therefore, the tamasic qualities are often expressed during that period of life. This is fine - as long as a way out of it is found and, thankfully, this is pretty much always the case. The rajasic qualities will be identifiable to most who are reading this. Life happens. It gets in the way of spiritual pursuits and, often, can seem more immediately attractive or carry more urgency. It is all to easy to become anchored in the external, leaving the internal for 'later, when there is time' - rather missing the point that attention to the internal strengthens one's base for dealing with the immediate and the urgent. Now is the time, later is never.

The sattvic quality, for those who are wrapped up in either of the other two, can seem an elusive ideal and beyond practical. It is also often noted that, by embracing a more sattvic approach to things, the immediate and the urgent do not abate - indeed, there are those who would argue that, due to increased sensitivity, such events actually increase… the Lord sending tests for the faithful, sort of thing.

This may be so, however, by living a more sattvic life, there is a different perspective on these things and very often, they can be let to go; just as water drops from the lotus leaf, not really touching the surface, but rolling across it. The raindrop was present, but affected not the leaf. The event takes place, but is dealt with in a state of vairaagya; knowing that this too shall pass away.

This is the point of the booklet. To highlight the benefits of attempting to shift ourselves ever more towards the sattvic life, thus gaining a greater level of stability and steadiness in our life journey. It is not to sit and bemoan or belittle either our own condition or that of others. There can be a tendency to look around and point fingers, using such basic understanding to build our arguments and gripes against another. This would be foolish and damaging, not just to the person we seek to attack, but to our own nature. Rajas and tamas will do this. Sattva cannot.

One of the other things which can be confusing when starting out in the learning of the triguna is the interpretation between sattva and tamas. Rajas is easy to identify, for the restless speaks loud! However, to the beginner, the other two can be mistaken.

The stillness and vairagya of the saatvica can, by the rajasica, be misunderstood. All that is seen is the surface and that, apparently, the saatvica is 'doing nothing' - thus the assumption is that of laziness, a tamasic tendency. What has not been appreciated by the restless one is that there may be much action going on within the silent one. There will be lots of teaching to come on the 'action within non-action', not least from Bhagavad Gita. Conversely, there have been occasions when the tamasica has been mistaken for a saintly type by virtue of having perfected the art of sleeping in a sitting position! This is not an innovator or meditator - no, this is a defaulter and deceiver.  There will come a time when the sattvica will act or speak and, due to the inner work which has been going on, such action and speech will hold quality and meaning. The tamasic will continue to sit and when questioned will have little to offer.

Rajas drives the society, the community, the world. Even the most sattvic, if they are to remain in it, must have a small element of rajas to balance life. The tamasica has no interest in being rajasic - why bother when it is not seen that there can be more gained from life than drink, eat, sleep, procreate and sleep again?

Be careful, too, not to fall into the trap of thinking that tamas belongs to the realms of poverty and 'lesser classes'… far from it. More often than not, the greatest amount of industry (rajas) is to be found in these echelons as they seek to rise from their lot. No. Tamas lurks even at the top of society; indeed many of its traits such as the misuse of substances, the 'wine, women song' lifestyle, the lust and the greed and the total lack of social care, are to be found in so called 'civilized' places.

Enjoy the readings we will follow on Choose-days for a while, but always bring it into yourself and assess your stance accordingly. Do nothing more than that, for it is but a mirror, allowing you time to reflect and adjust so that things are 'not too loose, not too tight, just right!'

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Hari OM
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