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Transforming Fear to Joy

Adaptation Manifests Refinement — Part II

Refinement is a necessary step on our evolutionary ladder toward self-actualization and fulfilment. Being aware of what forces drive our behaviour means we can adapt who we are, moment-to-moment. Each adaptation we make refines our skills, innate gifts and decision making in ways that uplift rather than belittle. In yoga vernacular, we call these driving forces gunas.

As I wrote in a previous blog, the gunas represent the three forces (sattva, rajas and tamas) that make up our universe and, thus, drive our fundamental human nature.  Getting to know these forces (contentment, agitation and lethargy; respectively) is key to understanding our mind, that is, our mental-emotional experience.  And, since we store unresolved emotion in our bodies, releasing such tension through understanding and appropriate action also enlightens our physical being and outer world.

… all that can be known in this world, tangible and intangible, is a manifestation of the gunas in their various forms.  Rolf Solvik

From the verses of the Bhagavad Gita, Rolf Solvik offers a contemporary interpretation of how the gunas manifest in everyday contexts, such as:

  1. What you eat (17.8–10):
  • Tastes good, promotes health, strength, and a pleasant mind (sattva)
  • Oversalted, highly spiced and causes illness and depression (rajas)
  • Stale, unwanted by others, and not fit as an offering (tamas)
  1. What you offer (17.20–22):
  • Given at the right time, with nothing expected in return (sattva)
  • Given reluctantly, or with the aim of gaining a returned favour (rajas)
  • Given inappropriately or with disrespect or contempt (tamas)
  1. Your spiritual path  (18.33–35):
  • Helps you bring your mind, breath, and senses into harmony (sattva)
  • Depends on your acquiring something you want (rajas)
  • Preoccupies you with fears, grief, and excessive sleep (tamas)
  1. Your happiness (18.37–39):
  • Arises from inner discrimination a