A human-being has been crafted by nature in the image of its creator. We are spiritual beings on a human journey. Somehow our daily living is marred by contradictory opposites. These include, action and reaction, pain and pleasure, hate and love, war and peace. We experience the world through a dualistic process. The quality-of-our-life is determined by the type of energy that flows through our mind and body.
Here we examine the types of natural forces which define the state of our daily existence and ways to improve and enjoy our human journey.
The Cycle of Creation
Human life is composed of three distinct phases: ‘Birth,’ ‘Living’ and ‘Death.’ This cycle of creation applies to all manifestations of Divinity. The cycle of creation is a continuous process represented by three states of the creator shown in Figure 1. Generation of life is called ‘Birth,’ Operation of life is ‘Living’ and Destruction of life is ‘Death.’
At the center of these three states of existence is the creator symbolized by the word God––an all pervasive state of reality. In the biblical tradition of life these three distinct states are represented as The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. In Hindu tradition these three aspects of life are represented by Lord Brahma (The Creator), Lord Vishnu (The Preserver) and Lord Shiva (the Destroyer)
Life Creating Energies
Observing the cycle of creation from an energy perspective our states of life are created by three types of energies. These are Active Energy (Creates), Subtle Energy (Preserves) and Gross Energy (Destroys). At the center of these three types of energies is the ‘Cosmic’ Energy. This is the all-pervasive state of Non-Dualistic or Absolute Reality. The energies involved in the creation of life are shown in Figure 2.
All creation is made up by a balance composed of all three forces of nature. For creation to progress, each new stage needs a force to maintain it and another force to develop it into a new stage. The force that develops the process in a new stage is active energy, while gross energy provides the resistance and subtle energy preserves the current state till the next cycle of change occurs. In this way the cycle of creation continues non-stop and is a dynamic process.
Infusing life into every smallest to the largest piece of creation is a solitary act of nature. The three forces of nature are interwoven and are present in sub-atomic particles, pant kingdom, animal kingdom, humans, river waters, mountains, planets and galaxies. As is the macro, so is the micro or as is the micro, so is the macro.
Our Three Energy Life
In Indian system of Ayurveda the three forces of nature discussed above are called Gunas (Guna is defined as a characteristic, a tendency or a thread of a unit of life). The three Gunas are: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.
Sattva: The Subtle/Positive Energy, The Spiritual Quality: It influences us toward goodness, truth, purity, knowledge through discriminative power of intellect.
Tamas: The Gross/Potential Energy, The Material Quality: It generates our need for material objects and sense enjoyment through our body conscious mind.
Rajas: The Active/Kinetic Energy, the Active Quality: It provides energy for action through ambition, passion and desires.
Each of the three gunas is ever-present simultaneously in every particle of creation but the variations in equilibrium manifest all the variety in creation including matter, mind, body and spirit. These three intersecting and intertwined Gunas are shown in Figure 3. At any moment of time only one of the Gunas predominates while the other two Gunas play a subordinate role and go into a resting/silent state.
In Ayurveda, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas are not creations of the human mind but rather are three modes of primordial nature—pure, undifferentiated, universal energies. These three gunas present the natural evolutionary process through which energy transforms from one form to another.
Food and Quality-of-Life
Food is an important aspect of human living experience. Food not only nourishes the body, it affects the mind and consciousness as well. Our mental constitution is determined by the mix of Rajas, and Tamas, Sattva. Like everything else in Ayurveda food is also classified into three categories. The three types of food and their impact on our life energy is shown in Table 1. The challenge for all of us is to choose foods for daily consumption which have minimum of Rajas and Tamas and maximum of Sattva. This practice is called ‘Mindful Eating.’
Reviewing the current world situation we see the declining state of our health and happiness due to the production and consumption of too much unhealthy food. This trend can be reversed by accelerating the development of organically produced crops and thus improving the state of our existence.
Our Guna Based Personality
These three Gunas, in different proportions, influence the physical, mental and intellectual caliber of every individual and these influences provide the distinct flavor in each personality. Sometimes Sattva is predominant, overpowering Rajas and Tamas; sometimes Rajas prevails over Sattva and Tamas; and sometimes Tamas obscures Sattva and Rajas. The nature of things is determined by the predominant Guna, while the others are there in a subordinate position. Figure 4 provides an example of Tamasic, Rajasic and Sattvic personalities with different mix of Gunas.
The personality traits of Rajas, Tamas and Sattva personalities are summarized in Table 2. Human perception and view of the world is influenced by the dominance of a particular Guna. A Rajas person looks at the world as a chaotic place; a Tamas perceives the same world as a dull place whereas a Sattvic personality sees lot of love in the world.
The state of our existence in the world is very chaotic today because of the thoughts, words and deeds of a majority of Rajasic and Tamasic personalities. The challenge for all of us is to attenuate the Rajas and Tamas and accentuate the Sattva.
Pathways to a Blissful Living
Our life is a play of Active (Rajas), Goss (Tamas) and Subtle (Sattva) energies. In each of us there is a proportion of each Guna. Without Rajas we would lack dynamism without Tamas we would not sleep and without Sattva life would be uninspiring and without the higher human qualities. The process of creating a blissful life and making our human journey more enjoyable requires to:
- Bring the knowledge of three Gunas into our daily living experience.
- Observe the dominance of a particular Guna whenever there is an emotional upsurge or down-surge of energy.
- Invoke positive thoughts to enhance Sattvic personality.
- Choose Sattva foods with ‘Mindful’ eating and enhance life energy.
People all over the globe can follow this simple four step recipe and raise the level of their consciousness. The collective consciousness of a significant number of people will help restore the health of our ‘sick planet’.
The Fourth State of Existence
Serious students of spirituality aspire to attain the highest state of existence i.e. the fourth state. This becomes possible when one lives a ‘Detached Life’ and is not disturbed by the Gunas. Transcending the limitations of the three Gunas is a pathway to attain the highest state of consciousness. One who attains this state of existence gets liberated from the joy and suffering of the material world and resides in Non-Dualistic Divinity. He is also gets freedom from the repetitive cycle of birth and death according to Bhagavad Gita (A Hindu Scripture).
Jagdish Kohli holds a Ph.D. Degree in EE from IIT Roorkee, India. He worked as a Communication Scientist at Bell Labs., Bell Communication Research and AT&T for over 21 years. His research contributions have been published in a number of technical journals and magazines. He also presented his findings at a number of national and international conferences. He was invited to contribute a comprehensive article on “Medical Communications” for the Encyclopedia of Telecommunications. Jagdish also has held faculty positions at Panjab University, Chandigarh India, IIT Roorkee, India, New York University, NY and has been an invited speaker at Stanford University, California USA. For the past eight years Jagdish has addressed issues related to the quality of our daily living experience. He has published and presented insights on “Wealth & Quality of Life”, “ The Journey of Human Thought & Happiness”, “Many Facets of Human Mind”, “Our Dynamic Cellular Body” and “Nurturing The Self.” Jagdish and his wife Shashi live in San Francisco bay area and are members of SKY. They have two children and two grand children. Jagdish can be reached at: [email protected]
Editor: Lindsay Friedman / Brianna Bemel