Qualities or Gunas of Maya
Maya has three qualities or gunas. These are called sattva, rajas and tamas. These three inseparable qualities exist simultaneously in all of matter, all the time.
Just as it's not possible to have water (H20) without the "O", oxygen atoms, so it's not possible to find a situation where one or more of its qualities have been eliminated. All three remain together, although at any given time, one of these qualities predominates over the other two.
Each quality has its own characteristics. Since both the external world and the internal world of the mind are made of matter, the qualities of the three gunas are seen in both. For example, in the external world we see:
- Sattva -- equilibrium and serenity
- Rajas -- dynamism and movement
- Tamas -- inertia and stagnancy
In the internal world of the mind, these are experienced as:
- Sattva -- Purity, compassion, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, comprehension, recognition, generosity, patience, kindness
- Rajas -- Desire, attachment, possessiveness, hyperactivity, fear, nervousness, anxiety, aggressiveness, competitiveness, power, prestige, name and fame
- Tamas -- Impurity, greed, anger, dullness, envy, jealousy, delusion, confusion, depression, stupor, unconsciousness, coma
One of the factors that influences the quality and strength of the material quality that predominates in your mind is your destiny (see below). Otherwise, because the mind has an adoptive nature, it is also strongly affected by the quality of your environment and associations. It is also influenced by the quality of the food you eat.
Material creation comes into existence due to the influence of another power called kal or time by the Hindu scriptures. Time is not an arbitrary division of the day and night, but an actual power. It creates movement or forward motion and comes into existence at the time of the creation of the universe, inducing its expansion.
These two powers, the material power, maya, and time energy, kal, cause other aspects of the material energy to manifest. These are:
- A perfect duality -- duality means dynamic opposites such as day and night, life and death, happiness and sorrow, rich and poor, high and low, good and bad. Time induces the change from one to the other; otherwise they would be static. Then it would only be night or only day, or we would only experience happiness or only sorrow, and so on.
With respect to the gunas, this means that although one guna of maya predominates at any one time, another guna will predominate after some time. It isn't possible to predict when they will change or shift, for how long or to what degree.
It is just like three wrestlers who are competing - how long can the strength of one person dominate over two people? After some time he weakens and one of the other wrestlers dominates the other two.
This type of fluctuation is seen in any creation of maya -- from weather patterns to our internal mood swings.
The relationship of the gunas to each other is dynamic and ever-changing.
- Attraction -- You learned earlier that the inner world of the mind expands in the presence of the outer world. There is a natural attraction or harmony between the subtle energy of your material mind and the gross manifestation of the external world. On a scale of 1 to 100, you could say the attraction is a "10". Why does it feel like 100? This is called attachment. It's not coming from the world; it's coming from you.
- Destruction - This means everything is temporary. Everything that is created in the field of matter, whether it's your human body or the universe, one day will end. This is the field of beginnings and endings and future renewal. This, again, is due to the fluctuation of the three gunas and the passage of time.
Gunas of Maya and Human Relations
Our minds are constantly being affected by the changing gunas, just like a movie is flashing on a screen. As we watch the light shown through the celluloid frames of a movie, our mood changes from scene to scene. We are emotionally absorbed in the reflected images. If something sad is depicted, we feel sad. If something humorous happens, we feel happy. Similarly, the gunas of maya reflect every moment on the screen of our mind, and accordingly our style of thinking, field of desires and mood shift.
For this reason, sometimes you feel extremely active, at other times reflective. Sometimes you are overcome by laziness. Sometimes you feel at peace. Sometimes you are motivated to better yourself and sometimes you feel self-destructive. These internal moods are a reflection of the influence of one of the gunas of maya.
While we are under the influence of any of the gunas, we see the world though that "tinted lens".
If we are under the influence of sattva, we may feel compassion and kindness for others. We will see only good in them and judge their intentions to be of the highest order.
When we are under the influence of rajas, we may feel ambitious and wonder how others can further our selfish motive. We may also feel that people are untrustworthy and they may try to take advantage of us.
When we are under the influence of tamas we try to devise some means of cheating or robbing someone or hurting them verbally or physically. We see others as being the enemy or as having little or no worth.
The world appears as you are.
It was explained earlier that we must undergo the effects of our past actions in the form of our current destiny. This comes to us partly in the form of physical situations (prosperity, poverty, sickness, injuries, health, etc.) and partly in the form of these mental fluctuations. We continuously experience these internal shifts throughout the course of our lifetime.
"Compatibility" is simply the coordination of two peoples' gunas of maya. If someone with a strong influence of satva meets another person with the same strong influence, they will feel a high degree of compatibility. If that strength begins to diminish in one person, they will feel start feeling less compatible.
Since the gunas of maya are constantly changing, compatibility then becomes more of a rarity than the norm.
What is a true relationship and true love? These are beyond maya. True means unchanging and eternal, and by definition this means Divine. This class of love is our goal in bhakti yoga meditation.