What’s it Between Me, My Nature, and Material Nature?

Sometimes I feel compelled to do things that I shouldn’t be doing, why?

The Three Modes of Nature (goodness, passion, and darkness/ignorance) compel us to act according to their unique configuration that covers us (souls). This configuration results from our prarabhada karmas (karmas that we’re born to enjoy or suffer).

We’re souls who are under the influence of false ego. Under this influence we think we are the doers of activities that actually the three modes of nature (goodness, passion, ignorance) carry out. (BG 3.27)

The soul doesn’t act, nor does it induce others to act, therefore, the soul doesn’t create results or fruits of actions either. The modes of nature orchestrate activities and interactions. (BG 5.14)

Is there any underlying emotion that impels me to act in a way I do?

Lust. Lust is born in our hearts when we come in contact with the mode of passion. In the material world, the mode of passion dominates.

The origin of all negative emotions is lust. From lust comes anger, which devours the world through personal conflicts, national fights, international fights, and so on. (BG 3.37)

The three modes of nature engage us in material activities according to their unique design for us. As a result we become attached to these activities. These activities or duties we perform are inferior because we don’t have the knowledge about our original duties. (BG 3.29)

Tell me what’s the connection between desires and the mode of passion?

Desires are the cause of the mode of passion. We work hard to get what we want (thinking, feeling, willing, doing) and during this process we create karmas. These karmas keep us bound to this world. (BG 14.7)

At the highest level, because the conditioned souls wanted to enjoy independently of God, the material universe was created. The creation is characterized by the mode of passion.

What’s is it that makes me experience good and evil? 

Living entity enjoys the results of his association with the material nature, which takes place under the influence of the modes of nature. Due to the activities that the modes of nature perform, the living entity experiences the good and evil by transmigrating through various species. (BG 13.22)

Where do the modes of nature originate from?

 These modes manifest from Krishna’s material energy. Although Krishna pervades in everything through his ksirodaskhyai (paramatma) form, He, as Krishna, is independent of everything. He is not influenced by the modes of nature. They are subordinate to Him. (BG 7.12)

Why don’t I and the rest of the world know the original cause of the modes of nature?

Because we’re deluded by the modes of nature. (See verse 7.13), our perspective is limited as well as contaminated. The modes act on consciousness as the dirt works on the glass. It stops us from seeing things as they are.

When was material energy created, and when did we, living entities, come into existence?

Because Krishna is beginningless, so is His material energy and living entities. Whatever transformation we see in the material energy and in the living entities is because of the modes of nature. (“The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.” (BG 2.23)) What Krishna is talking about here is the transformation of the covering of the soul. That is, body, senses, mind, intelligence. (BG 13.20)

What’s the underlying relationship between the material nature and living entity/soul/me?

Nature is the immediate cause of all material causes and their effects. (BG 13.21) Whereas, the living entity or soul is the cause of the sufferings and enjoyments in this world. We desire, contemplate on our desires, work toward accomplishing what we want, experience pain or pleasure in the course (BG 2.62-63). All begins with lust (BG 3.37).

How will my life change if I understand the relationship between material nature, modes, and soul?

One who understands the philosophy of how material nature influences the living entity through the modes of nature gradually becomes observant, detached from activities and their results, and therefore, is liberated. (BG 13.24)

Tell me more how do the three modes of nature work on me?

Goodness, passion, and ignorance. These three modes influence the soul whenever the soul comes in contact with the nature. Our bodily constitution, thinking, feeling , willing, eating, dressing, likes and dislikes everything is influenced by the modes of nature. (BG 14.5)

Which mode is better than the others?

 The mode of goodness is purer than the modes of passion and ignorance. Those souls who are more influenced by the goodness mode remain free from sinful activities which are the characteristics of the other two modes. This mode engages the soul in knowledge and causes happiness through the pursuits of goodness, such as philanthropic activities, sattvik religious activities. (BG 14.6)

What can the mode of ignorance or darkness do to me if it dominates my personality?

It lands us into crazy things like drug addictions, suicide, murder, etc.

BG 14.8:

  • Deludes embodied living entities
  • Causes madness, indolence, and sleep

It seems like the modes are ropes that bind us! Is it so?

Indeed. The modes are ropes that bind us. The mode of goodness binds us to happiness, mode of passion binds us to result-oriented actions, and the mode of ignorance binds us to madness (it covers knowledge). (BG 14.9)

Do modes work through us in the same way, always?

The modes are dynamic. They keep changing their position. Sometimes goodness has an upper hand, while sometimes passion leads, and other times ignorance wins the race. The modes function dynamically. (BG 14.10)

When does the mode of goodness prevail?

One of the ways the mode of goodness can prevail in us is when the nine gates of body (2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 nostrils, mouth, and genitals) function in knowledge, that’s when we don’t use them for sense gratification, the mode of goodness prevails. (BG 14.11)

How do we know that the mode of passion is dominating?

The symptoms of the mode of passion are attachment, expectations of results, too much endeavor, uncontrollable desires, and hankering. (BG 14.12)

What’re the signs of the mode of darkness?

The signs of this mode are madness and illusion. Becoming mad after somebody or something and acting without thinking which leads to disturbance and destruction. (BG 14.13)

What types of inner qualities develop in each mode?

Mode of goodness develops real knowledge, mode of passion, greed, and mode of ignorance foolishness, madness, and illusion. (BG 14.17)

Where do those, who lived their lives in the mode of goodness, go after death?

If the mode of goodness has dominated throughout life, a soul leaves the body in the same mode and attains higher planets such as heaven. (BG 14.14)

Where do those, who lived their lives in the mode of passion or ignorance, go after death?

One who leaves in the mode of passion, he returns to the planet where fruitive activities are performed. Those who die in the mode of ignorance take birth as animals. (BG 14.15)

What do the actions performed in three modes result in?

Actions performed in the mode of goodness bring happiness and contentment. Those performed in the mode of passion bring misery, and those performed in the mode of ignorance result in foolishness (E.g. someone tries to commit suicide, and before dying realizes what a foolish act he has committed.) (BG 14.16)

Which planets do souls attain according to the modes?

 Goodness: Higher planets, Passion: Earthly planets, Ignorance: Hellish planets (BG 14.18)

Will we always remain under the influence of the modes of nature and won’t be able to overcome them? 

Krishna says His material energy that consists of the three modes of nature is difficult to overcome. Only those who take Krishna’s refuge can cross beyond this energy. Because it’s Krishna’s energy and subordinate to Him, only Krishna can manage it. (BG 7.14)

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