Monday, April 1, 2013

here's how it works

Verse 2.45: The Vedas deal mainly with the subject of the three modes of material nature. O Arjuna, become transcendental to these three modes. Be free from all dualities and from all anxieties for gain and safety, and be established in the self.

If you want to know how to get the most out of something, you need to understand how it works - in depth. Bhakti yoga offers the rare opportunity to understand the underlying framework of the world we're in. Not only is this information interesting, in and of itself, but it also offers us insight as to how we function and what influences us. One of these topics has already been introduced - the concept of karma.

Another subtle force that affects us at all times is described herein as the three modes of material nature. Another way to understand the three modes is to consider them as influences which impact not only our behavior but our emotional, mental and physical state of being; they are categorized as goodness, passion and ignorance.

Imagine being covered under a blanket. That blanket is made by weaving yarn made up of three different colours. As long as you are under the blanket, those three pieces of yarn will always touch you. Similarly, we can consider this world like a blanket which is weaved together by the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. Depending on our inclination and propensities, we become influenced by the modes of nature in different ways. This is the reason why we act in particular ways, even against our better judgement.

But you may ask, "I still don't get it. How am I getting influenced?" This is where the subtleties of bhakti yoga start to become revealed. Everything we associate with influences us, whether we realize it or not. From the people we spend time with, the things we read and the food we eat, the modes, which taint everything, have an impact us.

Yes! Did you know that even food influences us? The bhakti texts describe that those foods which are nourishing and healthy and include items such as grains, fruits and vegetables promote goodness. Foods that promote passion include items that are overly spicy, salty and sour and those that may be categorized as promoting ignorance are those that are stale and are decomposing.

So why is it important to understand this? As was mentioned in the beginning, to get the most out of something, you need to understand how it works. This knowledge helps us to understand why we choose to do the things we do and why we have and maintain certain attitudes. Yes, we come with a certain nature or personality and we are receiving the results of our past actions. However, this information helps us in choosing what to do now. By realizing there are things that can influence us favorably and unfavorably, we are given the opportunity to make educated choices as to what our future will look like.

It's easy to stay on the superficial and just pretend that everything is "just happening". However, this incredible knowledge gives us the understanding to get a glimpse of the inner workings of the world and make the most of this body and this life.


  1. Food begins to decompose the second it is harvested or slaughtered. Unless the food is swallowed alive, like oysters, we are always eating decomposing food. Just the perspective from a chef who spends her life with an eye on the biological clocks in the pantry :)

    1. Morning Cairn! What you say is true, definitely from a material perspective. In fact, whether you meant to or not, you've prompted the topic of what's even greater than eating foods that promote the mode of goodness (which bring about a sense of peace, happiness, and satisfaction). Any guesses? ;)

  2. You've stumped me! I don't have any guesses :)