2. Three Invisible Forces That Drastically Shape Your Destiny Unraveled !


3 modes of nature

(Artwork copyright Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International – www.krishna.com. Used with permission)

Everyone is searching for happiness and striving for a better quality of life .

However, according to the Vedas, a living entity, being nonmaterial or transcendental by nature  (the soul or consciousness), seeks his eternal happiness in the temporary (ever changing) matter which makes it nearly impossible to achieve it just as it is impossible for a fish to find happiness outside of water. It must return to its natural environment – water or in case of a living entity – to the eternal spiritual reality.

Thus the wise compilers of the Vedas, knowing well that not that many people would want to solve the problem so radically, have explained how one can experience the highest quality of life even in a non-native material reality.

The Vedas describe the three basic invisible forces or qualities (gunas) that influence EVERYTHING  in the material creation – Sattva (goodness), Rajas (passion) and Tamas (ignorance).


These three modes are similar to the three main colors in a pixel of a TV screen (yellow, red and blue), which, though invisible to the naked eye, create all variety of color forms. Similarly these three gunas create all the diversity of the material world. The gunas also could be compared to the levels of matter.

For clarity, let’s look at the scheme below.

The higher spiritual reality can be compared to the sunlit landmass, and the lower material reality can be compared to a deep body of water. So the gunas are different layers of this body of water. The waters closer to the surface are more clear and lighter. This is the mode of goodness. The deeper and darker ones– is passion. And the very bottom of the material life, which does not receive any light of spiritual knowledge – is ignorance.

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When the pure consciousness of the soul is immersed in the material reality, it gets effected or colored by these modes and develops certain views and tastes.

SATTVA  (Goodness) is characterized by spiritual understanding of life, purity, serenity, adherence of spiritual laws, preservation of spiritual traditions, thrift, honesty, an ability to self-control, a sense of duty and responsibility, satisfaction, selflessness, and an ability to live in the present tense.

RAJAS  (Passion) is characterized by dynamism, creative impulse, dissatisfaction with the present and aspirations for the future, strong contrasting emotions, strong desire for external pleasures, cunning, the desire to avoid responsibility, materialistic outlook, greed, attachment to the external circumstances and things.

TAMAS  (Ignorance) is characterized by slowness, laziness, apathy, inability to foresee the consequences of one’s actions, nostalgia, complete lack of spiritual knowledge, destructive tendencies, addiction to intoxications (alcohol, tobacco, drugs), extreme stubbornness and materialism, etc.

Since material energy is so heterogeneous, we can choose how to live – either according to the standards of goodness, passion or ignorance. Naturally, these qualities are often mixed, since we ourselves have very conflicting desires that draw the energy of different gunas (qualities).  In this way, the real Vedic materialist knows how to extract the highest quality from material energy – the mode of goodness, and live by higher material standards.

The whole Vedic civilization of the past was built on the principles of SATTVA. This was possible primarily because people were internally spiritually oriented, and their consciousness stayed in goodness, and that consciousness determined their existence.

A modern unfortunate materialist can extract from matter only two lower qualities – passion and ignorance. Goodness is only present at a rudiment level or in a very primitive form.

People usually start thinking about surfacing up ( into goodness) when they really hit the bottom of life – total ignorance. When the turbulent energy of the mode of passion is not supported by the purpose or motivation in the mode of goodness, the energy of passion naturally transforms into ignorance.

A simple example: in the evening one decides to to the pub or a night club (passion) – in the morning he suffers a hangover (ignorance). A common sense of self-control (goodness) could have mitigated the effects.

Usually, it all develops as follows: the bright mode of passion deludes a person (nice looking bottle of alcohol, an attractive pack of cigarettes, a quick buck in gambling, fornication, etc.) and then he loses control of the situation and falls down in to ignorance (loss of health, money, relationships, etc. ), then he promises himself to become more serious, to control his bad habits and impulses (goodness). But such an inspiration is short–lived. Because the circumstances of the next day once again provoke him to play the same game again.

The atmosphere of the society today does not support the culture of goodness. The environment makes one a consumer of products and ideas in the modes of passion and ignorance. Therefore, a spiritually weak person is forced even from the material point of view to experience a poor quality miserable existence. Materialism and the lack of spirituality will inevitably lead to increased modes of ignorance and passion, which determine the current quality of life. Such is the feature of our time, but it was not always the case. Which means there is a chance to restore the culture of goodness in the society if a critical mass of people would support this culture.

Although people may not be familiar with these terms like mode of goodness, passion or ignorance, unconsciously, they seek out the better quality in everything they come in contact with, which is something that is closer to the mode of goodness.

In a corporate world, when the company hires someone, it’s looking for people without bad habits (mode of ignorance), educated, responsible, cultured (all of these qualities are born of the mode of goodness).

The qualities of the mode of passion (energy, entrepreneurship etc.) are also very sought after, but the danger of passion is that if it is not supported by goodness, it easily transforms into ignorance. You can enjoy your life (passion), but you need to know when to stop (goodness), so as not to degrade into ignorance.

The modes manifest not only externally but also internally.

For example, a person may appear very calm and reserved (it seams that he is in goodness), but inside he can have very selfish motives (passion), and in this case it is obvious that external goodness is at the service of inner passion.

But the laws of life are inexorable and sooner or later the lack of inner goodness will lead to passion getting out of hands and it will again end up in ignorance – losses, crashes and disappointments. The awareness of these modes of nature allows us to easily understand the nature of any phenomenon.

Here are a few examples of how different modes influence different aspects of life.

Time:  Morning hours, from 4am to 10am, is the time of the mode of goodness. This time is favorable for studding, meditation and yoga.  From 10 am to 10 pm –the mode of passion is predominant. This is the time for an active work. From 10pm to 4 am – is the influence of TAMAS, the mode of ignorance. This is a time for sleep or complete forgetfulness. Therefore, the Vedas recommend waking up before sunrise, taking shower, and then purifying one’s subtle and spiritual bodies through a spiritual practice. And then, a spiritually enriched person can safely begin his working day, without fearing that passion and many other events will completely overwhelm his mind. If a person is late to bed and late to wake up, leaving no time for the activity in goodness, he is thrown from the night of ignorance into passion of the day, not even properly waking up. Obviously, the consciousness of such a person will be easily susceptible to various stresses of the mode of passion. But goodness acts as a buffer protecting one’s mind from negative influences.

So, just by knowing these things and acting accordingly, we bring a deficit quality of goodness into our life.

Food. We’d need to write a separate article on nutrition and diet, but briefly we’ll say that vegetarian diet makes the body healthy and the mind calm and satisfied. It belongs to the mode of goodness. Everything else drags one down into ignorance and passion. Those, who think that vegetarianism weakens a person, may look at such strong and hardy creatures like elephants, horses and bulls – they are all vegetarians.

Literature that gives one spiritual knowledge and inspires the sublime goals – is in goodness. Books and magazines that encourage lust, greed, envy etc., – is a manifestation of the mode of passion. That which provokes fear, anger, and morbid fantasies – is the mode of ignorance. These same criteria are relevant for video products.

Music. Soothing and uplifting one’s consciousness, based on knowledge of cosmos rhythms, causing spiritual emotions – is in the mode of goodness. Music, which causes sensitivity and sentimentality – is in the mode of passion. Music that stimulates vandalism, causes anguish and overwhelms the psyche – is in the mode of ignorance. The other forms of art could be assessed by the same criteria.

Thus, different objects and other surroundings are charged with energy of different modes (gunas ) and since we are always eating, watching, listening, reading etc. – all these things fill our bodies and minds with corresponding modes (gunas) and THEY SHAPE THE QUALITY OF  OUR  LIVES.

Medicine, which is based on prevention, proper nutrition and lifestyle – is in goodness. Medicine that attempts to quickly and effectively eliminate the symptoms, but not the cause – is in passion. Medicine, which treats one disease and causes another – is in ignorance.

Economy in goodness is based on natural waste-free technologies that do not disturb the ecological balance. This is an agrarian economy with minimal mechanization. It allows you to see a live interaction between man and God through a material nature. It is based on     ” Simple living and higher thinking” principle. Which means, this production system allows a person to progress spiritually, without turning him into a pitiful appendage to a monstrous industry. The Vedas say that excessive use of mechanisms makes human heart mechanical and it’s very difficult to realize God with mechanical heart.

The economy in passion is not content simply meeting the needs of the body. Passion creates greed and leads to a crisis of overproduction and overconsumption. It forces people to continually update and invent new synthetic technologies that gradually destroy the very habitat of man, and if the common sense and understanding of the impact (mode of goodness) do not control these tendencies, this type of economy will destroy completely the human society. Ironically, the more people are trying to “conquer” Mother Nature, the more they become dependent on it.

Thus, the economy in passion, started with good intentions to improve and increase, but not taking into account the subtle laws of relationship with God and nature, becomes destructive and comes to its own collapse (mode of ignorance).

This analysis is long, but it is important to understand the general principle that

passion – creates, goodness – supports and ignorance – destroys.

Consciously or unconsciously a society condemns different forms of ignorance (drunkenness, drug addiction, laziness, irresponsibility, stupidity, etc.). And it strives for goodness, because we all want things to be durable, clean, beautiful and useful. And passion occupies an intermediate position, and can benefit a person only under the supervision of the mode of goodness. Having got tired of passionate working week, people want to get away to nature – to the sea, forest or elsewhere, where the mode of goodness  is naturally dominant, and there one feels relaxed and peaceful due to the contact with this higher mode of material nature.

You can see the hierarchy of the modes in the scheme:

It is quite obvious that the ideal quality of life is in the spiritual world, where pure souls, free of material bodies, fully realize their needs: eternity, knowledge and happiness. But first one needs to climb to the highest quality in the material sphere of life – the quality of goodness. The material properties of goodness are better than other modes, because goodness gives a sense of maximum happiness in contact with material energy and leads one to the fulfillment of all needs of the soul.

Therefore a person living in a material mode of goodness, and striving for spirituality, reaches the highest quality of life. This is called the real progress, because the physical and subtle bodies receive very high quality material “food”, and the soul gets a good chance to return to the spiritual reality.

Nowadays, most people live mostly influenced by passion and ignorance and have no clue about spiritual perspectives. By calling oneself a materialist, a modern man cannot even derive full benefits from matter. Such a life is not exactly of a high quality. Rather, it is an anomaly of development. Therefore, this is the path of degradation.

Of course, we can say that the standard of life cannot be imposed. Everyone has his own inherent nature and tendencies. The Vedas call it guna-karma, ie, some inherent innate quality (guna), which pushes one to a particular type of activity (karma).

But, fortunately, these natural inclinations could be corrected by means of spiritual knowledge and culture. So people, if desired, may gradually acquire a taste for a SATTVIC  (sattva guna) life. The mode of goodness, though it does not give such vivid impressions as passion (raja guna) and does not stimulate adrenaline, it gives more internal satisfaction and makes the mind calm, steady, focused and receptive to the higher truths. And this opens up the prospect of a better future for the individual – the soul.

At present we can observe how the global society is evolving (or rather degrading) from simple to more sophisticated forms of capitalism which is based on uncontrolled passion and greed; and eventually this progression will disappoint the majority of people.  Therefore, the natural alternative should be a society living in goodness, based on spiritual principles and values. Bringing this stabilizing factor in a society is possible only by increasing the level of spiritual education and culture of people and, first of all, the leaders of human society.

To learn more about “Three modes of material nature” , go to:

Listen to A Seminar –  http://mcknowledge.info/three-modes-of-material-nature-2/

View a comprehensive table – http://mcknowledge.info/three-modes-of-nature-a-comprehancive-table/

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