State of Our Existence & Beyond. ~ Jagdish Kohli, PhD

Via elephant journal
on Apr 25, 2012
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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:

  1. Bring the knowledge of three Gunas into our daily living experience.
  2. Observe the dominance of a particular Guna whenever there is an emotional upsurge or down-surge of energy.
  3. Invoke positive thoughts to enhance Sattvic personality.
  4. 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



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22 Responses to “State of Our Existence & Beyond. ~ Jagdish Kohli, PhD”

  1. Seetharam KE says:

    The article is excellently written. The link between food and quality of life is well presented. The availability of good food deserves higher priority as per the maxim "Annam Brahma". The link between excretion or sanitation (apana) and health is also important. How the four types of food help nourish the body and ensure good health is mentioned in the Geeta verse: "Prana Apana Samayuktam pacham annam chatur vidam". Most importantly, we need clean water to produce food, as well as for good sanitation.

  2. Nagarajan Madhavan says:

    This article connects the relationship between food and mind very well. A corollary of this is when a human being engages himself in activities that enhances Sattva Guna it will have an impact on his food habits. Sattva activites are like doing medidation, yogasanas or engages his mind in thinking on the lines of the salient characteristics listed against Sattva in this article.
    Albert Einstein spent most of his mental energy in search of truth and towards end of life he opted for Satvic foods
    Yogiraj Vethathiri Maharishi has mentioned that eating habits will automatically change when they do meditation and introspection sincerely.
    It will be great if the author writes about the concept of various Kosha's (Annamaya, Pranamaya, Manamaya, Vijnanamaya, Anandamaya and Atman

  3. Jagdish Kohli says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments. The topic of Koshas corresponds to the journey of humans from beginning to end. These koshas are nonlinear. Annamaya kosha is a very tiny part of the Anandamaya kosa. This topic will be explored at length in a subsequent article.

  4. Kapal Madra says:

    Dr. Kohli has summarized a complex issue in two pages and I really congratulate him for this simplification. It also reminds me of late Saint Bulleh Shah who stated in Pujabi —- which means that to find God one simply transplamts the mind from here to there. Dr. Kohli is a very knowledgeable person and I hope will add a few more
    aspects of living a noble life so that a common person could take advantage of it. However Hindu Scriptures indicate that it is easy to renounce in the fourth stage (75-100 yrs) of life and at the same time Bhagwat Gita states
    that one in millions get get Transformation. Thanks

  5. Jagdish Kohli says:

    Thank you so much for your comments on the teachings of Bhaawat Gita about walking on the path of spirituality in the last phase of one's life. In reality whenever a burning desire happened to know the TRUTH of life one starts on the path of self discovery.
    Your observation is right that only one in a million gets transformed and enlightened. That is very we only have a few known enlightened souls such as Christ, Budha, Mahavira, Guru Nanak, J. Krishamurti etc. But walking on the path of spirituality has many rewards and our journey becomes the destination.
    Your suggestion of creating more simlified knowledge of complex issues of life will be addressed in subsequent writings.

  6. Kamlesh says:

    Thank you Jagdish Ji for profound way to interconnect complex areas such as Cycles of creation, Life creating energies, food type, & Guna. Having this knowledge leads us towards blissful life – beyond duality and undisturbed by any Gunas. Sattvicness goes much beyond foods you eat and leads you toward blissful life.

  7. Jagdish Kohli says:

    Thank you for your concise summary of a number of interconnected areas of life. If we are just awre of the process of creation, invoke positive thoughts and consume organic food it can improve the Quality-of-Our-Living experience many fold.

  8. Neil Chopra says:

    Thank you for this article. I finished reading a translation of the Bhagavad Gita recently and enjoyed your practical application of the Rajas/Tamas/Sattva energies.

  9. Jagdish Kohli says:

    Bhagwat Gita is a great scripture and if we just follow only one of its teachings it can change our life. For example Selfless Service alone if adopted in our daily living can transform our life.

  10. Jagdish T says:

    Excellent article.

  11. Adarsh says:

    The article is a MASTER piece of indepth knoweldge of Ayurvedic concept of Life and how o interpret and use the wisdom of this knoweldge to lead a better nquality and fuller life day by day. An excellent piece of writing and wxplained in a clear simple and meaningful way.

    I wish more of this kind from Dr Kohli



  12. Kirit Kamdar says:

    Beautifully elegant representation – in words and graphics – of some very complex spiritual concepts. Thanks for an excellent article, that I very much enjoyed reading.

  13. Veena Jain says:

    Thought provoking article. I enjoyed reading three forces of nature and impact of it in creating the energy which leads to the human life we lead. The paths seem to be different to suit different natures, but the goal is the same, to attain union with Divine Spirit.

  14. Jagdish Kohli says:

    Thank you for making an important observation that all of us have a hidden desire to merge with the Divine energy. This is the energy of creation and is also called super consciousness. This hidden desire gets burried under the weight of unawreness of reality of life. We create thoughts of negative emotions to deal with the evils of the material world.As an example the thoughts of competetion are very un-natural and dteremental to our daily living.

  15. Varinder Kalra says:

    Thanks Jagdish Ji for an excellent article. The illustrations about the three gunas have helped me to understand how they are inter-connected and their role in shaping the quality of life and the importance of the Sattvic food. It is also encourging to learn that by transcending the three Gunas we can live a blissful life.
    May God continue to use you as His instrument to share more of your wisdom to help fellow human beings.

  16. Jagdish Kohli says:

    Thank you for your important observations and encourging comments. Yes life is all one interconnected energy. Active energy and Gross energy constantly interacts. Active enegy is our mind which is an accunulation of our thoughts. Gross energy is our body including the inner cells. Our positive thoughts create healthy cells and our negative cells damage the cells. Disease is the result of negative thoughts and emotions. Being awre of this alone brings about right action and peace of mind.
    I am glad that you enjoyed the article!

  17. Jagdish Kohli says:

    This comment was sentv ia email by PC Goyal
    Jagdish ji,__A very informative and interesting article for a "Blissful Living" to complete the human journey from birth to death and a path to attain Nirvana. Jagdish ji has explained very well the food you take and impact of it on the quality of life. Congratulations on this beautiful writing and look forward for more articles.__

  18. Jagdish Kohli says:

    Nirvana is the highest state of the SELF. This is realized by very few people. We should all strive to move on this path to live a blissful life. Thought purification by self introspection can easily put us on this path. We are what our thoughts are

  19. Kusum Kini says:

    Jagdish Kohli's article "State of our existence and beyond is thought provoking. Take a deep look and you find everything is connected and interconnected, as our body is made of five elements and we need these five elements to survive and then the death takes this body back into the five elements. creation, maintenance and destruction.
    A human- being has been crafted by nature in the image of its creator, this opening line itself says everything. What exactly this one sentence says? It took me straight to the four aphorisms known as "mahavakyas". They appear in each of the four Vedas as follows:
    Aham Brahma asmi : I am Brahman
    Pragyanam Brahma : Brahman is consciousness
    Ayam Atma Brahma : This Self is Brahman
    Tat tvam asi : That thou art
    Congratulations on a well written article. Looking forward to reading more of these. Thanks.

  20. Jagdish Kohli says:

    Thanks for such profounf comments.
    Yes everything is made up of the following 5 elements.__Ayurveda believes that everything in this universe is made of five great elements or building blocks, and these elements are earth, water, fire, air, and ether
    The truth of Who We Are never changes. Ancient scriptures stand witness to the fact that we are all created out of one consciousness.

  21. Dan Leftwich says:

    Jagdish, thank you for the reminder of the need to practice mindfulness in understanding the connections among the foods we choose to eat, our conditioned state, and changes in our state of being. That process must start with conscious awareness of what is happening when we make those choices — for better or worse. Ultimately, mindfulness becomes so attuned that it can become mindlessness — simply feeling what is right and harmonic with our vibration. This is a return to Oneness with Creative Intelligence. Like all growth processes, however, we must unlearn the old conditioned way of living to learn the new conscious way of living. Thanks for the lessons along the way. Best always,

    Dan Leftwich
    Evolutionary Law

  22. Jagdish Kohli says:

    Yes change is a necessity to improve the quality of our daily living experience.There is a need for self awakening. We have to come to terms with why to change and what to change. Want to change is apre-reqisite to start the process of change. If we cross this stage of self progress How to change becomes very easy.