Three Modes of Material Nature

It is said that variety is the spice of life, and there is not the slightest iota of doubt that we live in such a diverse world, with an array of people, culture, food, music, work, hobbies, religion, clothing, animals, plants, etc. Why does such a great diaspora exist? According to the Vedic paradigm, the objects and the going-ons in the world are simple the product or the workings of the combination of three principal modes of nature: goodness, passion and ignorance. Each of these modes has its own principal characteristics which are symptomatic of the different elements that fall within its classification and hence influence their behaviour. Specifically, in the mode of goodness, there is a feeling of happiness and purity, and a feeling of the progressive development of knowledge, while in the mode of passion there is unlimited desire and longing. The mode of ignorance on the other hand is characterized by indolence, laziness and sleep. In reality, the permutation of these modes in different degrees create further sub-classifications with their respective characteristics.

When we reflect upon our activities as well as on the different types of objects around us, we may appreciate the workings or influence of these modes of material nature. For instance, we can see that some people have an affinity for sleeping the whole day and appear very lethargic and morose; according to the broad mode descriptors above, such people apparently have qualities that can be said to be in the mode of ignorance. On the other hand, others who are always cheerful and thoughtful, possessing a peaceful disposition may be said to be in the mode of goodness, while an ambitious and energetic person may be considered to be in the mode of passion. To further illustrate, someone who is insulted and provoked might forcefully restrain himself from retaliating, while another might lose all control and seek immediate violent vengeance, and another might remain undisturbed. The degree of control exhibited in this example corresponds to the influence of passion, ignorance and goodness respectively. Therefore, the type of control is also a useful indicator of the influence of the mode of nature: no control – ignorance; forced control – passion; natural control – goodness.

A thoughtful person would deliberate upon these ideas and consider them in the light of their own thoughts, words and deeds. In so doing, we may have a better understanding and perhaps make sense of what we experience in our daily lives, as well as what goes on in the world around us. We may be able to see the competition of these modes, where in some situations the mode of goodness predominates while at other times, there is more influence of the mode of passion or ignorance. Such an awareness or consciousness of the workings of the modes may help us in better evaluating our actions and behaviour, and thus propel us to a higher level of existence.

About Aristotle Motii Nandy

Education Consultant - Leading the Global Character Revolution; proponent of the understanding that life comes from life and not from matter. I believe in the need for a paradigm shift away from mechanistic model of life towards a holistic paradigm, where children are, from a very young age, allowed to develop according to their ability in order to reach their true potential.
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