1.16 – tat param purusha khyateh guna vaitrshnyam –
At its highest level, nonattachment means having no desire for any of the constituent qualities of nature, because one has become conscious of the spiritual principle – translation by Bernard Bouandchaud.
– Indifference to the subtlest elements, constituent principles, or qualities themselves (gunas), achieved through a knowledge of the nature of pure consciousness (purusha), is called supreme non-attachment (paravairagya).—translation by SwamiJ.com
We get to point in these sutra discussions where I just start making stuff up because fundamentally, I don’t get it. Sometimes I can’ t even imagine it, it’s that off the rails for me. And here we are – right squarely at one of those places that I can scarcely imagine, so there’s about an 87% chance that whatever I’ve written here is completely wrong. Consider yourself duly warned.
First of all, let’s open things up by dissecting that phrase ‘constituent qualities of nature”.In yoga speak, these are the gunas. And what are the gunas, you ask? Excellent freaking question my fellow yogis and yoginis – let us indulge in a little yoga cosmology. And just a word to the wise – the gunas are another one of those Sanskrit concept clouds where things are not so much defined as they are a constellation of related ideas.
Every thing is composed of the basic building blocks of nature: matter (tamas) , energy (rajas) and space (sattva). All prakriti (anything that has capacity to change) is described as a balance between all three forces. All of creation, indeed the process of evolution itself, results from the interplay of these three forces. Rajas is the force of creation; sattva is the force of preservation and tamas is the force of destruction. Actually, technically speaking, the gunas are not the quality themselves but the tendency towards it. So refining the details a little more exactly, sattva guna is the tendency towards purity; rajas guna is the tendency towards action but not action itself and tamas guna is the tendency towards inertia but not inertia itself.
So within this framework, I can think about anything in terms of the interplay between these forces. Growth is the rajasic force pushing while the tamasic force provides stability. Meals that are heavy in meat and fats decrease my sense of sattva. They make me feel more tamasic. When I’m very agitated and jumpy, my mind is rajasic. When I’m dull and lethargic: tamas. When I’ve engaged in persevering practice, I experience a sense of sattva in body and mind.
Every thing I touch, work with, experience can be described in these basic, fundamental qualities. And in this sutra, the ultimate non-attachment is let go of these constituent qualities of nature. In purely physical terms, I will give up my attachment to atoms and molecules. I would no longer be moved by my desires and that’s not about willpower or renunciation. The desire itself would fade away and be gone as I approach my essential true self. This is when I let go of prakriti and resonate as purusha.
And that, my friends, is several levels above my pay grade. It’s taken me nearly a week to write this because this is so far beyond my limited understanding that I really struggle to find words to describe the idea as it’s filtered down to me. And trust me, I have no experience in it.
That’s it for this week. Sorry this is late but that’s the way it goes sometimes. This finishes up the section on abhyasa and viaragya. Next week, we’re moving on to types of concentration.
Until then, thanks for reading and Namaste,