sattvaṃ – clarity / purity
laghu – buoyant
prakāśakam – bright
rajaḥ – agitation / exciting / unsteady
iṣṭam – desire
upaṣṭaṃbhakaṃ – stimulating
calaṃ – agitating / unsteady
tamaḥ – obscuring / darkness
guru – teacher / heavy
varaṇakam – enveloping (darkness)
arthataḥ – with purpose
vṛttiḥ – fluctuate
Together, the three encompass my entire lived experience.
- What are the gunas?
- That which has the nature of pleasure I call Sattva. Sattva is buoyant and illuminating. But it is inactive and therefore unable to produce anything. It is activated by Rajas.
- That which has the nature of pain I call Rajas. Rajas is exciting and mobile and is the origin of all activity. It rouses Sattva and Tamas. It is restrained by Tamas.
- That which has the nature of delusion I call Tamas. Tamas is a restraining force.
- They always operate together like the oil, wick and flame in a lamp that together produce light.
- Their purpose is to illuminate in service of the Knower.
- Why are there only three Gunas?
- I notice them in my direct experience of pleasure, pain and delusion. In my experience they are mutually contradictory (when I experience one, I do not experience the others).
- Because they are distinct as effects I assign them distinct causes (that correlate to pleasure, pain and delusion).
- That which causes pleasure I identify as Sattva. Pleasure, enlightenment and buoyancy are similar and are therefore associated with the same cause – Sattva.
- That which causes pain I identify as Rajas. Pain, mobility and activity are also similar and therefore associated with the same cause – Rajas.
- That which causes delusion I identify as Tamas. Delusion, slugishness and obscurity are also similar and therefore associated with the same cause – Tamas.
- These three “causes of experiences” represent my entire range of experience. Any experience I have can be associated with one of these three. Therefore there are only three.