What do we do during our lifetime? This question can be answered in man y ways — what we do for a living, our passion, hobbies and things we do for survival. But if you think deeply, most of us for most of the time, the only thing we do is trying to come out of tamas (negativity, dullness, lethargy, confusion and pain). We use various stimulants (sex, drugs, alcohol, foods, shopping) to come out of it.
Irrespective of gender, status, age, most of the time what we do is only this. For many of us oscillating above the line and falling back below the line is the only thing that happens in our life. Our success, failures, happiness and sadness are just a by-product of this activity. Today I am going to use my favourite formula (Gunas) to see if it is ok to use stimulants to come out of tamas.
My favourite analogy to explain Gunas is a man swimming in the waters. Drowning underwater is tamas, swimming hard is rajas and floating in the water is satvik. Now let’s have a look at the activities one by one.
Sex— too much rajas takes you to tamas
The most natural activity and the most misunderstood one. This stimulant is universal across all species. Even using the word Sex in public is avoided. Don’t worry this blog is “U” rated. As stated above it is natural and common among all species so what is wrong in indulging? Here I would like to use the formula – too much Rajas takes you to Tamas.
Imagine the person who is swimming is trying to swim very fast, he soon will get tired and drown. He needs to swim intelligently. He needs to swim to keep himself afloat but at the same time if he swims too fast he will drown because of the same activity. This suits well for sexual activity. One knows the amount of high, sex could give but as the formula says too much Rajas takes to tamas. Here if this activity is not checked it can lead to severe fantasies and one becoming a pervert.
So we need to be aware of our sexual thoughts and keep a check on this behaviour.
Alcohol — never use rajas when you are already in rajas
One of the biggest mistake we do when debating alcohol drinking behaviour is we look at it from an ethical point of view. We cannot assume that all those who have this habit are immoral and vice versa. No, I am not advocating this behaviour but we need to see things as it is.
Again alcohol is something that gives too much Rajas. People drink alcohol when they are happy and socialising and they also drink when they are lonely and sad. Here I would like to use the next formula “Never use Rajas when you are already in Rajas”
Again imagine the water current is in your favour, without your efforts you are riding the waves, now what is the need to swim? If you are drowning yes you can swim. The same way a person who is already happy need not drink alcohol, many might disagree with me in this but my point is a person who is in tamas needs alcohol more than a person who is in Rajas. So if you have alcohol habit make sure you drink mostly when you are sad and depressed and limit your intake when you are happy.
Drugs — intensity is the trademark for Tamas.
This is one habit that every one of us will unanimously reject. Imagine you are swimming in the water suddenly you spend lots of energy to jump out of the water, you get high but this activity itself will take you inside water, now you will have to spend more energy to get above water and even more energy to jump out of water again. This is a very vicious cycle and you can rest assured you will drown sooner than later.
There are many types of drugs that affects everyone differently. But for sake of simplicity, we can generalise the reactions. Here I would like to share some important information on how our brain works. One of the most important hormones in our brain’s reward centre is dopamine. This hormone is produced in our body and this needs to go and fix itself in dopamine receptors. Now whenever there is huge surge in these dopamine hormones (too much Rajas) due to drugs the brain tries to balance it by shrinking and reducing the receptors, that is why the dose and frequency of drug intake keep increasing and ultimately reaches unsustainable levels.
One of the biggest excuse ppl give for using stimulants like drug is I use it moderately, but it is a very loosely used term. Who knows what quantity and frequency are moderate? Here again, I would like to use the next formula – intensity is the hallmark for Tamasik Guna. If you or your loved ones are not happy with small things, a newly blossomed flower, chill breeze, quiet time so on and so forth and only very intense activity brings you happiness then you need to appraise your rajasik activity. It is time to cut down on your rajasik activities.
There are other mild rajasik activities like food, shopping, music, socialising and others. One can always use them to come out of tamas, but there is one more fantastic way to approach life. Till now I have been taking only about Rajas and Tamas, now it’s time to talk about Satvik.
Satvik — controls rise of both Rajas and Tamas.
Controlling natural Rajasik qualities is very tough. These are natural gunas and trying to control them during the rise of such gunas will only wreak havoc on our life. Life will become hell. Instead, we will have to try and limit such gunas rising itself. This can be achieved by practising sathvik activities. Be compassionate show empathy. Do a random act of kindness. Smiling at the waiter, driving mindfully, listening to our loved ones during their time of distress. Follow “Krishna’s philosophy” and practise “shivas methods”. Listen to spiritual teachings. We can do many other such activities and these are all small activities which we can do throughout the day. Practising spirituality means the destruction of the ego through understanding God. Be it Bakthi, Gnana, Karma Whichever path is natural to you follow it.
These activities will help us to control the severe oscillation of the mind from Rajasik and Tamas. This is where peace lies. Patanjali says Chitta Vritti Nirodah. Stilling of mind is Yoga. Be it our scripture or science (nature dopamine and receptors) they both say the same thing.
Don’t eulogise or demonise Rajas activities when talking to children, let them know the reality. When talking to children it is important to give them the right perspective about these activities.
If we don’t understand this concept then only thing that we do in our life will be to just follow our senses senselessly. A vicious cycle of rajas, then too much rajas taking us to tamas, then trying harder for rajas. If not intervened we will drown. If we understand gunas and its nature we will be able to hack it and we will live a life where both success and happiness is in plenty. Our life will not be to rise and fall, over and below the line, it will be more purposeful.