When memory is purified, then contemplative poise is free of conjecture, empty of its own identity, with the object alone shining forth
- Smriti – memory, mourn
- Svarupasunya – sunya- empty of irritation from their own side
- Nirbhasa- bhe – beacon of pure light
Our personality and our responsiveness to situations are based on our memories of past events.
Many times our memory is not precise. For example if a crime is committed and there are multiple eye witnesses it is common that each person will see and interpret the event differently leading to multiple possibilities. What we choose to remember guides the response we choose. This is our discernment our intelligence. In the context of Ayurveda this relates to the mental qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas. In the state of sattva we are capable of purifying memory.
1) Sattva – is the pure reflection of things as they truly are. This is true intelligence and it imparts balance. As it is the pure reflection it represents virtue, harmony and stability. The perspective influenced by sattva creates a responsiveness that is characteristic of an intelligence that is happy, content, loving and peaceful. All of these qualities can be awakened through the cultivation of sattva.
2) Rajas – is a very active and energetic reflection of things. The memories that arise will cause imbalance. The mind requires a certain amount of activity in order to operate. When this activity is not balanced with silence and inactivity then the equilibrium and balance can be disrupted. It motivates action, but when the motion is not terminated then continuous activity can result in passion, distress and conflict. Using rajas correctly can be a powerful tool.
3) Tamas – is the material world and although many of us take this apparent substance to be true we forget the atomic makeup of objects and this leads to ignorance. The memories that arise from physical substance cause inertia. The physical world veils the true reality and it’s characteristics are that of dullness, darkness and limitation. Focusing on the physical world creates ignorance and delusion. It is a necessary component of life, but memories based only on the physical veils true awareness.
Our interpretation of the objects in the universe is based on the various combinations of the three gunas. They like the dosha’s determine the unique way in which we respond and remember.
Correspondences of the Three Gunas
- Sattva – White
- Rajas – Red
- Tamas – Black
- Sattva – Day
- Rajas – Sunrise and Sunset
- Tamas – Night
- Sattva – neutral
- Rajas – positive
- Tamas – negative
- Sattva – causal or ideal
- Rajas – subtle or astral
- Tamas – gross or physical
- Sattva – spiritual realm
- Rajas – human realm
- Tamas – mineral, plant and animal kingdoms
States of Consciousness
- Sattva – waking
- Rajas – dream
- Tamas – deep sleep
Sattva and the Mind
The mind, or consciousness in general, is naturally the domain of Sattva. Consciousness itself is called Sattva in Sanskrit. Unless the mind is calm and clear we cannot perceive anything properly. Sattva creates clarity, through which we perceive the truth of things, and gives light, concentration and devotion. Rajas and Tamas are factors of mental disharmony causing agitation and delusion. They result in wrong imagination and mis-perception.
From Rajas comes the false idea of the external world as real in itself, which causes us to seek happiness outside ourselves and lose track of our inner peace. Rajas creates desire, distortion, turbulence and emotional upset. It predominates in the sensory aspect of the mind because the senses are ever-moving and seeking various objects. As long as we remain immersed in the pursuit of sensory enjoyment we fall under the instability of Rajas.
From Tamas comes the ignorance that veils our true nature and weakens our power of perception. Through it arises the idea of an ego or separate self by which we feel ourselves alone and isolated. Tamas prevails in consciousness identified with the physical body, which is dull and limited. As long our identity and sense of well-being is primarily physical we remain in the dark realm of Tamas.
Sattva is the balance of Rajas and Tamas, combining the energy of Rajas with the stability of Tamas. By increasing Sattva one gains peace and harmony, and returns to Primordial Nature and Pure Spirit in which is liberation. However attachment to Sattva, such as clinging to virtue, can bind the mind. For this reason we must strive to develop pure Sattva, which is its detached form, or Sattva not clinging to its own qualities. Pure Sattva does not condemn Rajas and Tamas but understands their place in the cosmic harmony, which is as outer factors of life and body whose proper place is apart from our true nature.
When pure Sattva prevails in our consciousness we transcend time and space and discover our eternal Self. The soul regains its basic purity and unites with God. When out of balance, the three gunas bring about the process of cosmic evolution through which the soul evolves through the kingdoms of Nature, experiencing birth and death, happiness and sorrow in various bodies. The movement of the three gunas is coterminous with creation.
Sattva as the state of balance is responsible for all true health and healing. Health is maintained by Sattvic living, which is living in harmony with Nature and our inner Self, cultivating purity, clarity and peace. Rajas and Tamas are the factors that cause disease. Rajas causes pain, agitation and the dissipation of energy. Tamas brings about stagnation, decay and death. Rajas and Tamas usually work together. Rajas brings about the over expression of energy, which eventually leads exhaustion, in which Tamas prevails. For example, too much spicy food, alcohol, and sexual indulgence, are initially Rajasic or stimulating. These eventually lead to such Tamasic conditions as fatigue and collapse of energy. On a psychological level too much Rajas, which is turbulent emotion, leads to Tamas or mental dullness and depression.
To remember your practice every moment of every day that experiences are empty from their own side.
- Many interpretations abound on how memory guides the subtle impressions that create our intelligence. In the context of ayurveda the use of memory in order to constantly come back to our practice. To remind ourselves not to commit crimes against wisdom and to serve our digestive fire and thus keep the doshas balanced
- The brain becomes creative because of experiencing the cause and effect. When memory functions perfectly it becomes one with the intelligence
When we remember our true nature. Yoga is not a practice of initiation something new it is a process of re-remembering who and what we truly are. The mind becomes so full with the memory of the divine reality that is appears as if it no longer exists on its own. These changes take place with the guidance of purusa. Purusa is the guide and it is contact with purusa that allows its intelligence to guide the unfoldment of samadhi.
In Ayurveda memory is governed by the subdosha of Tarpaka Kapha. If we are having trouble remembering our true nature and Ayurvedic practitioner can work with Tarpaka Kapha in order to help regain memory. The functions of Kapha are in the table below:
Nourishing the mind and learning what is digestible in terms of experience and titrating that is one of the many tools that Ayurveda can employ in order to heal the memory so that the innate state of Sattva can arise.