The Three Modes of Material Nature

All human beings are influenced by the three modes of material nature which keep an individual bound in the cycle of birth and death. These three qualities of virtue (sattva), passion (rajas) and ignorance (tamas) exist within all human beings and fluctuate in proportion from time to time, but the prevailing quality in a person is a result of that person’s past life karma. The dominating quality is visible through an individual’s habits, character and tendencies.

The Three   Modes of Material Nature

Saatvik/Virtue Rajas/Passion Tamas/Ignorance
This is the mode of   goodness, purity and illumination and attaches the individual to material   existence (the continued cycle of birth and death) through attraction towards   desire for knowledge and happiness This is the mode of   passion, ambition, constant activity, lust, desires, and infatuation and   attaches the individual to material existence through attachment to fruitive   activities/work (activities that bind the individual in the cycle of birth   and death due to one’s attachment to the results of their karma or actions) This is the mode of   darkness, and is characterized by the state of delusion, ignorance and   laziness, the inability to focus and binds the individual to material   existence through ignorance, delusions or distorted views, laziness,   sluggishness, procrastination and irresponsibility
The result of activities   performed in the mode of goodness is purity and wisdom The result of activities   performed in the mode of ambition or passion is misery and greed.  The very same things that once gave   pleasure ultimately give sorrow.  For   example, foods that are extremely pleasing to the taste buds over time result   in disease.  Or the individuals who   once gave you joy, and life without them seemed impossible are the very ones   that now give you sorrow. The result of  activities performed in the mode of   ignorance is lack of knowledge
Such a person is situated   in non violence, charity, truthfulness, compassion, modesty, determination   and performs actions that are devoid of attachment to the results, knows   right from wrong Such a person is situated   in performing actions that result in some reward. Such a person performs   actions that result in violence and destruction without taking into   consideration the consequences.
One dominated by the quality   of sattva or goodness, believes all his actions are a result of the three   qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas.    He performs actions (duties and responsibilities) free from attachment   to any desired result and knows that the soul is not the same as the physical   body.  He has control over his mind and   senses. One dominated by the rajas   guna or quality of passion is full of pride, ambition and desire.  He seeks pleasures and sense gratification   and is stuck in material bondage. One situated in the tamas   guna or the quality of darkness believes he is the doer of actions, believes   physical body as the self, is egotistic, dominated by the senses, full of   desires and attachment, ignorant and delusional.
A person situated in   saatvik guna is drawn mainly towards saatvik foods or nourishing foods that   promote health, vitality, long life and foods that are pleasing to the heart   (meaning give contentment) such as fresh fruits, vegetables, milk, ghee etc,   and foods cooked in little oil and fewer spices. A person situated in rajas   guna is drawn mostly towards rajasic foods that provide instant gratification   or momentary pleasure cause sickness, disease and distress and misery in the   body such as foods that are hot, spicy, sour, tangy and pungent and food that   are cooked with lots of spices and oil. Is drawn mainly towards   tamsic foods that are impure and stale.    Examples are foods that are fermented, preserved, canned, frozen   dinners, stale foods, cold foods, barbecued food, meat and alcohol and left   overs of others.
Saatvik individuals are more   interested in advancing spiritual upliftment Rajasic individuals are more   interested in advancing material upliftment A person in state of tamas day   dreams a lot
One situated in sattva guna   or the quality of goodness feels oneness and unity with all living entities One situated in the mode of   rajas or passion looks at all living entities as separate and different from   him. Almost all human beings operate in this mode in day to day life One situated in the mode of   tamas has fragmented thinking.  Such an   individual is ignorant and limited and stubborn in his thinking.  Has a closed mind and is very rigid in his   views.

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