Purusha, Prakriti & The Gunas

Purusha, Prakriti & The Gunas


Last month we discussed the five root causes of suffering (kleshas): lack of self-awareness (avidya), "I am-ness" (asmita), attachement (raga), dislike (dvesa) and fear of change (abhinivesha). The Yoga Sutras state that by tracing our patterns of suffering back to their source and controlling the thoughts (vrtti) that arise around them we can avoid future pain.  Sutra 2.17 states that the suffering to be ended is caused by the correlation between the Seer and the Seeable. 

Purusha is the Seer, the witness, pure consciousness and the True Self. Prakriti is the Seeable, the experienced, creativity and the constantly changing. All ideas and feelings, including those about Purusha, are composed of impermanent and interconnected braids of creative energy, or Prakriti. Prakriti is expressed through the three primary forces of creation - sattva, rajas and tamas. Sattva is brightness, clarity and intelligence. Rajas is activity, passion and change. Tamas is inertia, lethargy and darkness. Referred to as the gunas, these three forces combine to create everything in nature including the food we eat, the thoughts we think and the body in which we live. Sutra 2.18 goes on to say that the Seeable exists for the dual purpose of experience and emancipation. If Purusha is pure seeing alone and Parkriti exists solely to put on a fantastic show for Purusha, how did they become such an entangled mess?  Though distinct, Purusha an Prakriti are often experienced as one and the same due to lack of self-awareness - yes, thats right, klesha numero uno! Through the practice of the 8 Limbs of Yoga we can use our experience to awaken to our innate discriminating intelligence. This light of awareness has the ability to discern the difference between the Seer and the Seeable.  When the Seer sees clearly the external world may appear drastically changed when in truth, it is the internal perception of the world that has shifted. The world doesn't change but how you relate to it does...

Next month we will start to look at where the rubber meets the road - The 8 Limbs of Yoga!