As children of Mother Nature, we come embodying her qualities of light and darkness. These positive and negative energies are present in various proportions and permutations in all human beings (as well as all creatures and creations of nature). Therefore, as nature’s creatures, we are bound by these primal forces of nature.
Guna (in Sanskrit) translates to that “which binds”. The 3 main Gunas are: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.
Even though the characteristics of each of the Gunas below are identified separately, most of us tend to carry all 3 of the Gunas in various proportions.
Tamas is a quality of stillness and darkness. So Tamasic people embody a stable nature, and tend to be patient, restful and indolent. Because of the inert energy of Tamas, people of this Guna can sometimes be prone to depression and loneliness.
If we recognize Tamasic energy within us, our task would be to pull ourselves up and out of it, literally, by getting up and moving; getting active, avoiding heavy foods, getting out of dark corners into light and sunshine.
Tamasic characteristics include (but are not limited to):
Rajas is a quality that embodies activity, ambition and accomplishment. Rajasic people are full of energy, enthusiasm and passion. They are purposeful, goal-oriented, and high achievers. Because of the high frequency of energy, Rajasic people tend to be fiery in temperament, hyperactive, and aggressive.
If we recognize Rajasic energy within us, some measures to pacify it would be to slow down, breathe slower, practice meditation, avoid spicy foods, and seek places of peace (rather than chaos).
Rajasic characteristics include (but are not limited to):
Sattva is a quality that's synonymous with calm, clarity, and consciousness. It radiates light, harmony, and peace. People who are of a predominantly Sattvic nature tend to be content and have a luminous aura around them. They are stable, balanced and intelligent. They are usually open-hearted, empathetic, and have an expansive nature. However, they can also be complacent sometimes, smug and self-satisfied.
If we recognize self-centered smugness in our Sattvic energy, the way to move out of it would be to bring in awareness, to practice mindfulness and self-inquiry, to strive for equanimity in all things.
Sattvic characteristics include (but are not limited to):
As seekers of spirituality, which Guna should we aspire to?
In terms of consciousness, Sattva Guna represents awakened consciousness, Rajo Guna represents dream state, and Tamo Guna represents deep sleep.
Seekers naturally aspire to cleanse, purify and balance their Gunas, so that they can gradually become more Sattvic in their nature, their diet, their habits, their reactions, and their moral character. This is a natural tendency of our evolution from material beings towards spiritual beings. We want to drink more water, practice more meditation, strive to be honest and humble, to give and forgive, to be kind, compassionate and grateful… to be patient, present and peaceful…
and on and on…
But when do we stop aspiring?
When we stop aspiring is when we un-bind from the Gunas. When we stop aspiring is when we transcend into Being.
So the Vedas say, Don’t aspire. Evolve. Exist. Transcend.
“When one rises above the three gunas that originate in the body; one is freed from birth, old age, disease, and death; and attains enlightenment.” -Bhagavad Gita