OM…peace – peace – peace.
Disciples enquire within themselves: What is the cause of this universe? – is it Brahman? Whence do we come? Why do we live? Where shall we at last find rest? Under whose command are we bound by the law of happiness and its opposite?
Time, space, law, chance, matter, primal energy, intelligence – none of these, nor a combination of these, can be the final cause of the universe, for they are effects, and exist to serve the soul. Nor can the individual self be the cause, for, being subject to the law of happiness and misery, it is not free.
The seers, absorbed in contemplation, saw within themselves the ultimate reality, the self-luminous being, the one God, who dwells as the self-conscious power in all creatures. He is One without a second. Deep within all beings he dwells, hidden from sight by the coverings of the gunas – Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas. He presides over time, space, and all apparent causes.
In Chapter 17, Krishna repeats his teaching of the gunas. He then explains OM TAT SAT to us: ‘OM TAT SAT: these three words designate Brahman, by whom the seers, the Vedas and the sacrificial rites were created in ancient times. Therefore OM is always uttered by the devotees of Brahman, as the scriptures direct, before undertaking any act of sacrifice, almsgiving or austerity. TAT, meaning the Absolute, is uttered by seekers after liberation who desire no reward for their deed, when they are about to make sacrifice, austerity or give alms, or practise some austerity. SAT means goodness, and existence. It also means an auspicious act. All perseverance in sacrifice, austerity or almsgiving is SAT. ‘
Interesting to contemplate the way folk have reacted to being told that we must follow a policy of austerity, in order to put our country’s finances in order. In this quote from the Gita, austerity is seen as a virtue and a self-discipline. Using measures of austerity will ensure that the country rebalances, and that the vulnerable will be sheltered and protected.
We’ve met the Gunas before, but this is the way that Krishna explains them: ‘ From Prakriti the gunas come forth, Sattwa, Rajas, Tamas: these are the bonds that bind the undying dweller imprisoned in the body. Sattwa the shining can show the Atman by its pure light: yet sattwa will bind you to search for happiness, longing for knowledge. Rajas the passionate will make you thirsty for pleasure and possession: rajas will bind you to hunger for action. Tamas the ignorant bewilders all men: tamas will bind you with bonds of delusion, sluggishness, stupor.’
So, these three energies govern all activity in the Universe. They are entwined, like a rope. We need all three states, yet we need to be aware of all three states. Notice. Be alert and curious about which sdtate is governing you at this moment.
Krishna continues: ‘Let the wise man know these gunas alone as the doers of every action; let him learn to know That which is beyond them, also: Thus he will reach my oneness. When the dweller in the body has overcome the gunas that cause this body, then he is made free from birth and death, from pain and decay: he becomes immortal.’
I just love that word ‘oneness’. One love to you all…
We’ve been following the theme of ‘Food is Medicine’, but the manner of your eating matters too. In the Sivananda Ashram in Kerala, Southern India, we were required to eat in silence. If chatting occurred, a loud ‘OM’ would resound around the hall to remind us! Eating quietly and resting afterwards, having a period of quiescence, ensures that the nutritious content of the food is appreciated and that the digestive system can work efficiently.
Yoga tells us about the three gunas. These three energies form the qualities or constituents of nature. Rajas is motion, activity, passion. Tamas is darkness, inertia, heaviness. Sattva is purity, clarity, balance..Eating in the state of sattva ensures proper digestion and assimilation of food, while ‘eating on the go’ is rajasic and guarantees indigestion. Being in the tamasic state while eating, and indeed eating foods which produce this tamasic state, guarantees heaviness in all respects.
Preparation of food for others also needs consideration! If you’re angry and harassed and your quickly making a meal for the family, when they eat it they will take on that rajasic energy! That’s a recipe for everyone becoming cross! If you are in the calm state of Sattva when you prepare food, the love is baked in! The family or friends ‘enjoying’ your food will actually receive the joy from within it! Worth practising some quiescence…