Ayurveda and The Three Gunas


In Vedic philosophy the world is the result of the constant interplay of three gunas. The three gunas (or qualities) are Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. They can be used to describe all human experience, from our mind, to nature and even corporate business. This blog will discuss briefly what they represent, how they can be kept in balance and how they affect us and the world.

Tamas is the foundation of the world, often being misunderstood. In nature, it is manifested as inertia or restraint. the root of the trees, as the rocks, as the mountains, as the turtles, etc. In our daily life, Tamas helps us stay focused during the day, take breaks when needed and sleep at night. In the corporate world, Tamas manifests as the employees you can count on.

They hardly call in sick, they are conscious workers and rarely seek recognition. Tamas in excess manifests as obesity, lethargy, laziness and darkness in the mind and personality. Tamas should not be confused with the Kapha dosha. The gunas are used to describe the entire spectrum of the experience of the mind and personality, and go beyond the physiology of the body. But just like the Kapha dosha, proper nutrition and lifestyle habits can be used to keep it in balance.

Rajas is the movement of the world, the activator. In nature, it is manifested as the stem of the plant, as the strong wind, as the rainstorm, as the tiger, etc. In our daily life, Rajas helps us wake up in the morning and be productive during the day. It helps us work and play.

In the corporate world, Rajas manifests as the employees that are always thinking outside of the box and like to be in charge. They are the first ones to jump into new opportunities and take them to the next level. When Rajas is in excess, people become arrogant, argumentative, destructive and maybe prone to addictions. Proper nutrition and lifestyle habits can be used to keep Rajas in balance.

Sattva is the stillness of the world, the quiet, peaceful existence of life. It is a walk in the woods, it is breakfast on the beach, it is lunch on the top of a mountain, it is dinner by a campfire, it is a butterfly, etc. etc. etc. In our daily life, Sattva helps us stay at peace, it helps us meditate, it helps us find inner happiness and helps us be aware of our higher Self. In the corporate world, Sattva manifests as the feeling of a job well done, as a room full of happy, creative people and as a business blossoming towards its full potential.

When Sattva is in excess, it becomes narcissism, spiritual arrogance, inflated egos. People with excess Sattva may become self-proclaimed gurus and false leaders. Sattva in balance is Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Saint Francis, to name a few. Sattva out of balance could be Adolf Hitler and Jim Jones to name a couple. Proper nutrition and lifestyle habits can be used to keep Sattva in balance.

All of the material world exists because the three gunas, combine, separate, and recombine. They can neither be destroyed nor created, they can only transform. They can manifest as higher intelligence discrimination or lower ego. In nature itself, without human intervention, the three gunas will stay in a dynamic balance.

As humans, we should look at proper nutrition and specific lifestyle tools to keep our own dynamic balance. In order to find and/or maintain this balance, it is always good to seek the advice of Ayurveda.

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