SITE FRANÇAIS CONTACT INFORMATION
The Gunas: an Eastern Approach to the Three Levels of Awareness
In the East, the three levels of consciousness are referred to as the gunas. They are found woven throughout nature, and everything in the universe is influenced in whole or in part by these three complementary threads. The conscious, subconscious and superconscious minds are referred to as tamas, rajas, and sattwa respectively. Sattwa (or sat) refers to everything that enlightens and is positively (+) charged. Tamas (tam) is a negatively (-) charged force, whose nature is to obscure and darken; yet it is essential as it creates form. The soul enters the physical body courtesy of the tamas force. Once in the body, we are continuously challenged to struggle against the consistent downward-pulling force of gravity, which is the hallmark of tamas. It is for this reason that tamas is considered an obstructing force and, in nature, is considered dense.
Rajas (raj), the pivotal force of this triad, is neutral. It is simply a fulcrum upon which sat and tam perform their roles so that we can ultimately attain an equilibrium in our lives. These forces are ceaselessly at work and are perceived in the entirety of the human condition; for example, as pain and pleasure, love and hate, or good and bad.
The physical body is born into this world fully equipped with the five senses, and it is due to the senses that the body is seen as tamas. This is primarily because we, as individuals, are generally not in control of our senses and the various impulses, desires, and attachments associated with them. So, although essential for human life and for the evolution of our consciousness, the body may become a tremendous liability, making it difficult for us to attain the equilibrium we are inherently striving for.
If we are to find this balance, it becomes a necessity to embrace sattwic qualities such as peace, conscientiousness and unconditional love, to name a few. It is a matter of learning to trust our intuition and our soul—or superconscious—within which is a powerful sattwic force of light. Rajas relates to the mind and translates as king. In its unique position as an interface between the soul and body, it has the ability to unify the three gunas or to keep them isolated from each other. The true power of the mind lies in its ability to become the perfect medium through which the light of sattwa can illuminate, integrate and refine the tamas of the physical body.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna, “The mind can become our greatest friend or worst enemy.” Ultimately, it rests with the mind to help us realize a sense of integration within ourselves or to keep us occupied in the world of duality, with its never-ending cycles of pain and pleasure.
Once we have learned to integrate the three gunas (or levels of awareness), we become whole, complete and in harmony.
The three gunas are interwoven in nature, throughout the universe as well as the micro-universe of the hand. The palm is divided into sattwa, rajas and tamas. Each section or mount of the hand is also subdivided into sattwa, rajas and tamas. And, in turn, each section of the mount is divided into the three gunas and so forth.