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.
We are reading the small booklet called "Not Too Loose, Not Too tight - Just right!" This is written by Swamini Vimalananda, and gives a very general overview of Vedanta for the beginner, with emphasis on the sattvic, rajasic and tamasic approaches to life. Remember, we are a mixture of all; use this as your mirror.
कर्तव्य /kartavya - actions/inherent tendencies and duties
Each of us has inherent tendencies, potential talents and abilities which are called our स्वधर्म /swadharma. For example, Arjuna's gift or swadharma was brilliance in archery.
Also, depending on one's stage and position in life, duties come to us unasked. If we are students, the duty is to study, whether or not we like the subject! These duties are called विवेश धर्म /vivesha dharma or कर्तव्य /kartavya. Actions with respect to our inherent talents and duties can be, again, seen in the light of the three great qualities.
Sattvic; to act according to one's inherent abilities, thereby manifesting one's full potential, is to follow one's swadharma. In such cases, one progresses easily like a fish striking through water. For instance, a man with good business acumen is likely to proper rapidly, whereas another without the same flair for business, regardless of study or qualification, may fail. We easily become proficient (skilled in knowledge) and efficient (skilled in application) when following swadharma. Work becomes a joy and we find we are less tired and can work quickly. It is said, 'take a job you love and you will not have to work a day of your life!'
A sattvic person does his or her duties cheerfully, without expecting others to congratulate, appreciate or offer reward. There is joy in performance, satisfaction on successful completion and even unpleasant duties are carried out this way. There is an alertness in sattvic performance, resulting in proper and efficient completion, without pride, pomp or show. We have duty towards family, society, nation and universe. We also have a duty towards ourselves. A sattvic person has no confusion as to priorities. Sattvic performance holds patience, determination and enthusiasm without elation or dejection in success or failure. There is equipoise and no regret.
Rajasic; when a person does work that is not consonant with his or her aptitude/swadharma, such work is called परधर्म /paradharma. For example, many who have no inclination to serve and sacrifice become doctors only for status and to make money. For such people, there is little joy in their work, for they are all the time thinking of the what can be gained from the work, rather than the benefit of the work itself. Work then becomes a chore - boring, burdensome and filled with tension. Things might fall in standards such as ethics or systems as shortcuts are sought to achieve the ends. Some act only to impress others, others blindly copy peers so as to appear to be equal (or better)… there is always a sense of unhealthy competition in the rajasic person. There is little or no unfoldment or fulfilment in such actions and often they lead to jealousy, frustration, dejection or depression.
The rajasic person does his orher duties with expectations, attachments and pride. We often hear statements like 'my relations must appreciate what I do for them' or 'without me, it wouldn't get done'. Such a person is often worried, tense, fearful and filled with worrying, fretful thoughts such as 'what if I fail my exams?... What if I can't find a partner?.... What if this or that..??!!' Such a person is confused about his or her duties and gets distracted by temptations even during their execution.
Tamasic; all of us have good and bad within. The tamasica performs actions according to his baser values, called अधर्म /adharma. Violent tendencies can cause a resort to murder, bullying and such like. Such actions give him no joy and, in the long run, his life become a hell. A tamasica does not do what should be done and will frequently do what ought not to be done. Tamasic persons are lazy, procrastinating and forgetful. Excuses are made for poor or non-execution of tasks. There is a sense of stagnation and even rot about such personalities. Gurudev often said 'if you rest, you rust!' Tamasic folk are burdened with guilt of not doing what ought to be done, or for doing the wrong thing, and they tend to find various means of escape such as drugs or alcohol or other negative activity. They also seek to pass their duties onto others. They become a burden to society, not minding if they live off other peoples' sweat and toil and even might feel it ther right to be taken care of by others. These are the types who appear to believe the 'world owes them a living'. Even their efforts are half-hearted and their minds disintegrated. It takes them a week to do what can be done in a day and they are often dissatisfied and depressed. They believe if their work is left, someone will come along who can do it instead.