In association with Acharya Das

In Part 1, we learned some aspects, let us see more in this part below.

The Three Modes of Material Nature

In the Bhagavad-Gita, there is frequent reference to the Sanskrit word, tri-guna, which means the three qualities, or the three modes of material nature. It describes three types of invisible, but powerful, energetic forces that permeate the material world and influence us.

One of these forces is called sattva-guna, the mode of goodness. In this condition, you’ll see people being more attracted to a simple, natural lifestyle. They are not overly agitated and are living a more peaceful existence.

The mode of passion is epitomized by intense desire and agitation. The creative impulse arises from the mode of passion and so people are driven to build massive cities and to engage in passionate undertakings. The result of the mode of passion, raja-guna, is anxiety and distress.

Then, the third mode is called tama-guna, which means the mode of ignorance, and it is epitomized by laziness, a very depressed mental and physical state, and attraction to intoxication. It always ends in darkness and great distress, or in different forms of insanity.

Even within a day, a person may be influenced by these three energies at different times. Our quest for happiness and pleasure in the material world is shaped by which one of these energies, or what combination of them, is influencing us.

An insightful video on Happiness

The Bhagavad-Gita says:

That happiness which is derived from contact of the senses with the objects of the senses and which appears like nectar at first but poison in the end is said to be of the nature of passion.

Bhagavad-Gita 18.38

How many times have we had the experience where we entered into a relationship, or some other new circumstance, in an attempt to really enjoy ourselves, and with such hope for happiness? It seems so delightful and promising at first, but later it doesn’t turn out so well. That which in the beginning appears like nectar but in the end tastes like poison — why would I do that, if I know how it’s going to end? It’s not smart. We just act on these impulses, hopes, and aspirations.

Speaking about another type of happiness, the Bhagavad-Gita says:

And that happiness which is blind to self-realization, which is delusion from beginning to end and which arises from sleep, laziness and illusion is said to be of the nature of ignorance.

Bhagavad-Gita 18.39

We see this with drunks or drug addicts who are living on the street. They may have given up on life. They live in squalor and in a delusional state, thinking that somehow, they’re going to find happiness in the end; that somehow their life is going to be better.

The third form of happiness that is discussed is:

That which in the beginning may be just like poison but at the end is just like nectar and which awakens one to self-realization is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness.

Bhagavad-Gita 18.37

Spiritual experiences are often likened to this. Over time, as the purification of the heart and mind takes place, the sweetness of the spiritual experience begins to awaken. It begins to increase to the point where one becomes bathed in it, like an ocean of transcendental nectar.

Life Lessons from the Bhagavad-Gita: Happiness, Part 2 of 2

How then should a yogi view material happiness? Fundamentally we are advised to live in this world and to accept the happiness and distress that come from this material experience, for what they are. Not to be elated, chasing after the happy experience, and not trying so hard to avoid the distress. We cannot avoid them. The happiness will come, and the distress will come. We need to accept them for what they are, and not make them the focus of our life. But rather to go on a spiritual inward journey and discover this great ocean of unlimited happiness resides in the very core of our being.

So, Krishna therefore advises Arjuna:

Oh, son of Kunti, the non-permanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.

O best amongst men [Arjuna], the person who is not disturbed by happiness and distress and is steady in both is certainly eligible for liberation.

Bhagavad-Gita 2.14-15

Then later in the Krishna says:

Before giving up this present body, if one is able to tolerate the urges of the material senses and to check the force of desire and anger, he is a yogi and is happy in this world.

Bhagavad-Gita 5.23

We are taught by society that chasing the sensual experiences of this world is where we will find happiness. But here we are being told no, that’s not a good place to go. It does not end well. It would be better to attempt to exercise control and discretion and seek our eternal well-being and happiness in a different place.

Krishna says:

Unless one is engaged in the devotional service of the Lord, mere renunciation of activities cannot make one happy. The sages, purified by works of devotion, achieve the Supreme without delay.

Bhagavad-Gita 5.6

This is addressing the subject of our eternal function. This need for happiness and love arises from the very core of our being. They are spiritual needs and can only be completely fulfilled in relation to the Supreme Soul. It is only in this state that one will find and experience true and lasting happiness.

You can watch the full video where Acharya das is speaking on Happiness – Life Lessons from Bhagavad Gita here.

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