Transformation of the Gunas

 

Are Prakriti, Nature and the gunas quite different things? If so, why do we see them always mixed?

Prakriti and Nature are the same thing — the gunas are modes or processes of Nature (Prakriti).

Do impulses or passions such as killing or fighting come from a push of Rajoguna or Tamoguna?

Both together — for it is made up of tamasic obscurity and rajasic wrong impulse.

Can a purely sattwic man become very angry or passionate?

No — he can only be firm or severe when severity is needed.

Are depression, despair and fear reactions of tamas or rajas?

Tamas.

“Not only will the Purusha stand apart and be trigunatita, beyond the three gunas, but the Prakriti, though using the gunas, will be free from their bondage.” So says the The Yoga and its Objects. How can Prakriti remain free from the bondage of the gunas in spite of her using them?

By the transformation of the gunas eventually. Till then by using them without attachment as the will and as the instrumentation of the Divine Shakti.

But before the transformation, how can the Prakriti use the gunas without attachment, since it is with a great difficulty that even the Purusha manages to be detached?

How then are the Yogis who act with detachment able to act at all? If the action of the gunas necessarily implies attachment, then it follows that in their parts of nature they remain attached, ego-ridden, desire-ridden, not free. There are three separate things, ego, desire, the gunas.

How is your last sentence related to the previous sentences? In fact, my mind failed to grasp properly your whole answer.

If ego and desire are different things from the gunas, then there can be an action of the gunas without ego and desire and therefore without attachment. That is the nature of the action of these gunas in the unattached liberated Yogi. If it were not possible, then it would be nonsense to talk of the Yogis being unattached, for there would remain still attachment in part of their being. To say that they are unattached in the Purusha but attached in the Prakriti, therefore they are unattached, is to talk nonsense. Attachment is attachment in whatever part of the being it may be. In order to be unattached one must be unattached everywhere, in the mental, vital, physical action and not only in the silent soul somewhere inside.

Does not the usual action of the gunas bring attachment, desire and bondage? If not, why should we bother so much about the transformation of the gunas?

We were not speaking of the “usual” action of the gunas, but of an unusual action possible by Yoga. The transformation of the gunas is necessary for the perfection of the nature, not for liberation. Liberation comes by loss of ego and desire.

When speaking of the detached activity in spite of the gunas’ action, if you meant that the yogi’s inner being remains detached while the outer is under the action of the gunas, then it is an understandable thing.

All nature is Prakriti, not only the outer nature. The difference is between Purusha and Prakriti, not between inner and outer being. Purusha is the still, observing, supporting, creating consciousness. Prakriti is the dynamic side of the being.

It is not the inner Purusha only that remains detached — the inner Purusha is always detached, only one is not conscious of it in the ordinary state. It is the Prakriti also that is not disturbed by the action of the gunas or attached to it — the mind, the vital, the physical (which are Prakriti) begin to get the same quietude, unperturbed peace and detachment as the Purusha, but it is a quietude, not a cessation of all action. It is a quietude in action itself. If it were not so my statement in the ‘Arya’ that there can be a desireless or liberated action on which I found the possibility of a free (mukta) action would be false. The whole being Purusha-Prakriti becomes detached (having no desire or attachment) even in the action of the gunas.

The outer being is also detached — the whole being is without desire or attachment and still action is possible. Action without desire is possible, action without attachment is possible, action without ego is possible.

“Prakriti is the dynamic side of the being.” What is meant here by “the being”? Generally we use the term “lower being” for the Prakriti.

Prakriti is Nature; being includes Purusha also. Prakriti is not the lower being — the word covers the whole of Nature. We speak of the lower nature, the higher nature.

I cannot make out how the action of the gunas can escape causing attachment.

That inability of yours does not prevent it from being a fact. It simply means that you have not reached the point where such detachment of the Prakriti is possible.

It is a general progress of the consciousness that is needed. These things are not done according to a fixed programme, map or plan.

If the Prakriti is separated from the gunas, what will remain of it? How will it act?

If the gunas are quiescent, then Prakriti ceases to act — unless the gunas are transformed into their divine equivalents, — then Prakriti becomes the higher or divine Nature.

When the Prakriti is emptied of the action of the gunas, or when it ceases to act, what is left in it for us to distinguish between Prakriti and Purusha?

You seem to think that action and Prakriti are the same thing and where there is no action there can be no Prakriti! Purusha and Prakriti are separate powers of the being. It is not that Purusha = quiescence and Prakriti = action, so that when all is quiescent there is no Prakriti and when all is active there is no Purusha. When all is active there is still the Purusha behind the active Nature and when all is quiescent there is still the Prakriti, but the Prakriti at rest.

Prakriti is the Force that acts. A Force may be in action or in quiescence, but when it rests, it is as much a force as when it acts. The gunas are an action of the Force, they are not the Force itself. The sea is there and the waves are there, but the waves are not the sea and when there are no waves and the sea is still, it does not stop being the sea.

When we do work without ego, desire and attachment, what kind of action do the gunas take up?

The sattwa predominates, the rajas acts as a kinetic movement under the control of sattwa until the tamas imposes the need of rest. That is the usual thing. But even if the tamas predominates and the action is weak or the rajas predominates and the action is excessive, neither the Purusha nor the Prakriti gets disturbed, there is a fundamental calm in the whole being and the action is no more than a ripple or an eddy on the surface.

Is “kinetic” a Sanskrit word?

No, the word is “kinetic” from Greek kineō I move, “kinetic” means something that puts things in activity. It is kinesis, pure activity and movement without desire.

Even when our actions are really free from any attachment we feel sometimes tamas or rajas.

I said that the predominance of sattwa was the usual thing, but rajas and tamas could also be prominent.

When the consciousness as well as the action is free from ego and desire, there is always a fundamental calm. This calm remains whether sattwa predominates or not. Sattwa need not always predominate, because to become sattwic is not the object of sadhana. To need to be always sattwic would be a limitation. Whatever guna predominates in the action, to be free, desireless, calm behind all actions, is the condition of the liberated man.

In the unattached actions, it is, as you said, usually the sattwa that predominates. What happens, then, to the gunas when the Mother’s Force takes up our actions?

They are used and led gradually towards transformation.

In the process, are the gunas first transformed or the Prakriti?

The Prakriti can be psychicised and spiritualised and the gunas yet remain but with the sattwa dominant and the rajas and tamas enlightened by the sattwa. As the transformation increases, the gunas change more and more towards their divine equivalents, but it is only when the supramental comes that there is the full change.

I encounter so much resistance, revolt and attack from my physical nature while trying only to enlighten it. How much resistance you and the Mother must be facing while supramentalising the whole material Nature! How do you manage it? The attacks must be coming on your physical body also.

When one knows that it is like that and sees the play of forces one does not get disturbed. There is the inner position described by the Gita, “Whatever comes or goes, sattwa, rajas or tamas, the Yogi regards calmly and is not elated or depressed by it.”

Today the Prakriti also was able to detach itself to a certain extent, while I felt myself quite inactive in the midst of work. Why then does the Prakriti fall back into the gunas?

It is because of the existence of the ordinary consciousness which relapses to its old movement.

When one feels it is the Mother’s Force that acts through one and not one’s own, is it then her Force alone that works in the actions and do the gunas remain quiescent?

No, the gunas are there and not quiescent — for they are the instrumentation. If the force and the inner consciousness are very strong, then there is a tendency for the rajas to become like some inferior form of tapas and the tamas to become more like a kind of inert shama. That is how the transformation begins, but usually it is very slow in its process.

What is the inert shama?

Inert shama is shama still mixed with tamas — a quietude that has no force of action (tapas) in it, no positive principle of happy ease, no positive light of knowledge — but is still calm, repose, release from all disturbance.

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