The Nature of Us: Gunas, Prakriti, and Purusha
Have you seen Startalk with Astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson? He engages the listener with wonder and thrills with cutting-edge banter. He acknowledges the limits of his expertise, and "reaches out into the ether," to discuss the nature of the universe as it pertains to pop culture with experts in their respective fields. This guy is fully alive, constantly seeking understanding by engaging with his peers in meaningful discussions aimed at furthering the evolution of the human race. Right on, brother man!
Theoretical Physics sparks my interest when it proposes that dark matter and dark energy cannot be technically measured, yet pundits agree on these terms to account for that which lies beyond our perception. Where science ends, spiritual curiosity takes over.
If you are like most thoughtful humans, you have wondered about what accounts for different personality types. A handy theory is that of the Gunas - Three Qualities, which comprise all of Prakriti - Material World. They are: Sattva - Light, Rajas - Mixed, and Tamas - Dark. All things contain these qualities, yet in different ratios. The dominant quality or qualities will express themselves in the individual through action.
I heard Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle speak at the Shrine Auditorium in LA last night, and was struck by this phrase: the universe is not an noun, but a verb. We can only perceive it through action. Deepak Chopra told us that stars are a snapshot of chemical action. Even thought is action, perceived in brain activity.
For us, action springs from the qualities that comprise the nature of the individual. It is important to note that the only constant is change. The ratio of qualities is in constant flux, in accordance with the realization of one's Dharma, or True Path. Some call it: finding that which you were born to do. When Dharma is aligned, one could enact a more Sattvic nature, resulting in deep joy, constructiveness, and harmony.
Prakriti is Action, not Being. Purusha - Consciousness, is the un-changing, everlasting, Higher Self, or True Nature of it all. Some call it: this little light of mine; or, as Eckhart Tolle says, who you were before you were named.
While Purusha remains constant, one's Awareness of it can be enhanced or dimmed through life experience. In the talk, Eckhart Tolle referred to the Dharmachakra - Dharma Wheel, although he did not use the term. He said there are natural peaks and valleys in one's path to Higher Consciousness. There are periods of Full Consciousness, or silent No-Thought, followed by periods of Regression, or loud Mind Chatter, but nothing is lost in the process. What a relief to hear!
If you look at images of the Dharmachakra (one of the Hindu and Buddhist Ashtamangala - Eight Auspicious Signs of Enlightened Qualities), its round shape represents perfection of the buddha's teachings, the spikes are great revelations, the hub of the wheel is discipline, and the rim is meditative mindfulness, holding it all together.
You are the wheel. Realizing your own nature, you might observe the following qualities. Remember that all are vital and take this knowledge with understanding. Please refrain from judging yourself or others. To do so is to miss the point!
Are you: Compassionate, Constructive, Harmonious, and Positive?
If so, you enjoy a primarily Sattvic personality at this moment. Sattva is pure, pleasure, and spirit. I think of Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, or Gautama Buddha as exhibiting primarily Sattvic qualities.
Are you: Active, Controlling, Confused, Full of Selfish Desire, and Human?
Then, you are Rajas in quality. Rajas is mixed: light with dark. All world leaders have Rajas quality, they get things done.
Are you: Negative, In Pain, Destructive, and Chaotic - Aren't we all, sometimes?
This is Tamas quality. Tamas is of the earth, impure, and dark. Artists and musicians have Tamas energy, which allows them to be in tune with the rhythms of the earth.
To know one's self, to be unabashedly self-aware, and learn from experience how best to navigate the present moment, is to be fully alive. Why not explore the nature of us a bit deeper? Be well, my friends.