Saturday, 24 September 2016

Guna or tak guna

It is raining now. I now love the rain. After spending one week in a very hot place like Spain where everything is brown, i now love the rain in Ireland. I do not complain about it.

I am feeling very much better. I have spent the best part of the last few hours reading the Ramayana. It is, like all mythological texts, full of layered meaning. Ask me what I have learned about life so far? I have learned this:

1. The most important thing one can do is to have a structure into which action is then poured. Myths provide us with this. The structure can shift and change. So MEANING is critical.

2. After that comes, in equal part, art and science. Art and science are the twin activities under which meaning can be experienced. People kind themselves if they think they are neutral. There is no such thing as being driven by art or science. We are all driven by meaning. If we do not make this apparent, what drives us, then it becomes the subconscious and we do not control it, but it controls us.

3. Neither art nor science can exist on its own. Both have to constantly play with and interrogate each other. They must both hold each other to account. And in this dialogue between the two, meaning then is created and recreated.

The Ramayana has all of this.

Beyond that, there is nothing else. Everything else is a derivation of this experience.

The Hindus have this structure in which they operate: gunas. Interestingly guna is also the word for 'use' in Malay. In Malay when you say something is 'tak guna', it means that it is useless. I imagine that guna was taken from Sanskrit.

There are three gunas - the tamasik (tamak in Malay means greedy), rajasik (raja means king in Malay) and sattvastic (sattva, which means goodness, as in Bodhisattva). These are the motivations - when we act, how are we motivated? Are we motivated by a higher purpose? To good for others? Or are we doing good for ourselves? In an egotistical way? Are we not doing any good at all? Are we just mired in the sense realm where we are greedy and full of pride? Interestingly in all three ways we can achieve what we want. We can be the most charitable person on Earth, but if we are motivated by tamasik ends - in other words, we do this because we think it is just the easier option possible, then it is tamasik. To be honest very few tamasik people are charitable. But many rajasik people are - they do this to gain fame and power and fortune. THINK about the state of your soul a person is asked when confronted with the gunas. Walking the path of truth is not always the easiest, but maybe it is the best thing to do. Paradoxically, probably very few sattvic people are also charitable in the traditional meaning of the word. They probably don't do it through money, but through sacrifice and service.

So the meaning is the substructure and art and science are the how - but the motivation, that is the currency - and as human beings we are constantly asked to be in full inquiry of all of this.

Somewhere along the way, this was terribly messed up. It is super hard to deny the authenticity of feelings, but what the Hindus say is, you need to learn to ride them, the way riders are able to work with the horse. If you don't, they ride you - and that is when you are in trouble.

I have to look back in my life and say i have been ridden by my feelings so many times - because i thought it was the right thing to do. Everywhere i looked it was something which was recommended. I can now see that being ridden by your feelings is not the same thing is being able to acknowledge them.

I don't know why it has taken me such a long time to understand this. Possibly because there is so little of it around me.

What is interesting though, is the way i have known this word guna all my life. Use. How does one use one's life? Are you of any use, and what is that quality of - usage?

So when meaning, method and being all come together, then it makes the most sense. And myth is the single most authentic way in which that is achieved. I understand this now. It is such a shame that our myths are so fallen now. The Christian myth is so degenerate that there is not much that we can do with it in the state which it is in. What i mean by this is that it has been so badly interpreted and abused that no right thinking person can approach it with no baggage. Especially in this part of the world. People then turn to Bhuddism to try and find these answers. For me Bhuddism has never been about providing the answers either. I think that right now, where we live, we have this amazing opportunity to be able to read and choose from so many different traditions and see where they all converge. In the Ramayana I am seeing how similar it is to so many other mythic systems which predate the Bhuddist-Christian Axial age.

These superhumans which superhuman powers - which affected the lives of human beings. So always, always, regular people and then the superhumans. This narrative is beginning to return now in our films, through fiction, through is looking towards angelic beings. To be able to draw a straight line between this mythic thinking and our modern day life is a very powerful exercise.

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