The Cause of the Gunas

The Cause of the Gunas

As I’ve described prior, the gunas are fundamental qualities within all things. Their balance determines how we experience objects and the lens we see them through.

In brief, the gunas are:
Sattva: purity or clarity of the flow (golden)
Rajas: movement itself, energy or fire and transformation (red)
Tamas: resistance or inertia, impediment to movement, stability (blue)

Just as objects are built up in layers (celestial, structure, field, and form), so too are their qualities, leading to substances with complex blends.

Similarly, the dominant quality of our physiology acts like a filter of consciousness, leading to the way we see the world. Through spiritual practices, we can use the rajas of transformation to shift inertia to flowing sattva.

Tamas: when inertia is dominant (for most of us), we experience the world as solid and real.
Rajas: when rajas becomes dominant, fire loosens up inertia and the world comes to be seen as illusory, often called maya.
Sattva: when sattva becomes dominant, refined perception develops and we recognize the world is a Divine play, Lila. The appearance has roots.

Crimson Sunset by Enot91
Crimson Sunset by Enot91

And then in the Brahman shift, we transcend consciousness altogether and the world comes to be seen as an uncreated appearance. (The dominant guna may influence this stage as above until the physiology can catch up to unfolding in consciousness.)

In the earlier origin article, I spoke of the gunas as arising from the dynamics of consciousness.

However, there is also the feminine element, the power driving that expression. Without it, the gunas would remain unexpressed. This power is called Shakti, the feminine complement of Shiva (witnessing consciousness). As the saying goes, Shiva is dead (inert) without the energy of Shakti.

As Dayanand recently noted, these Shaktis “are Shri Shakti (Sattva Guna), Bhu Shakti (Rajoguna) and Neela Shakti (Tamoguna).”

The names of the Shaktis are illuminating:
Shri (sattva) refers to grace and radiance. We could say the golden light of consciousness.
Bhu (rajas) is ‘to be’ and implies action, doing.
Neela (tamas) means dark blue, again pointing to the subtle colour of the guna.

(It’s dominant guna doesn’t usually create the colour of a physical object.)

I’ve spoken before of how consciousness is aware of itself, both globally and every point. For those points to be maintained, for witnessing consciousness (Shiva) to be stable, we require tamas.

The key is right proportion. Too much tamas and inertia dominates. Then the world creates suffering. Too much rajas and there is excess change. Right proportion is enough tamas to maintain the world, enough rajas to evolve, and yet more sattva for refinement and enjoyment of the world.

Life is a balancing act, always moving toward homeostasis at a higher level.

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  1. George Robinson

    D, though it must take some time and effort on your part, I’m most grateful for all the intra-links you provide in every post. Those allow us to do our own back-fill homework and revisit previous posts for more complete understanding. At least for me, this has been most valuable. Gracias in boatloads, as usual!

    1. You’re welcome, George. It allows me to avoid explaining everything in detail over and over. It increases the value of the site as a reference. And it reduces scripted content theft (along with putting my pen name in the content). It’s also part of the reason why I started the Key Posts page, though I make heavy use of the Search tool too.

      WordPress used to make trackbacks from the linked articles so you could read forward too, adding to the cross-referencing. However, spammers starting using them to get ad traffic, massively increasing the “noise” in search engine results. They disabled that feature.

      I do still add some links forward on older articles too.

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