“At the end of the day, meditation is recognized more by the beauty of the discoveries we make rather than by the number of facts we know.”
TKV Desikachar

What Are We Seeking?

Yoga – Gunas, Mind & Body



In the universal condition of nature, the Cosmic Substance (Prakrti) is postulated to account for the objective side of existence; it is the potential phase of nature without which all things come. It consists of three constituents called Gunas: Sattva, Rajas & Tamas. In the individual manifestation of nature they are the psychological basis of all things:

  • Sattva – illuminates and accounts for qualities such as joy, enlightenment, faith, forgiveness, courage, concentration, modesty, indifference, detachment and compassion.
  • Rajas –  activates (moves Sattva to suppress Tamas, and Tamas to suppress Sattva) and account for qualities such as argumentation, opinion, attachment, jealousy, selfishness, desire to afflict, suspicion and all cravings of the senses.
  • Tamas – obscures and restrains, veils consciousness and obstructs action. It accounts for qualities such as carelessness, delusion, ignorance, laziness, pride and deluded conviction.

The individual proceeds from the universal condition of Spirit and Matter – therefor man consists of a subtle aspect and a gross aspect. the subtle body is the invisible vehicle of the soul, it is constant and does not change through the cycles of life and death; however it is not eternal, for it is eventually reabsorbed into the elements of which it is composed. The gross aspect is the material and perishable body – destroyed at death and another formed at birth. It consists of the 5 gross elements (ether, air, fire, water & earth). All this is the sum and substance of mind.


(watch for “Mind” and “mind” – they are different entities in Sanskrit but share the same English spelling)

Patanjali uses the term Citta (“cit” = to perceive, comprehend, know) to describe what may be called Mind – and refers to the entire knowing faculty. It is the first manifestation in the world of name and form. It si defined as the organized totality of conscious experience; it consists of all the activities of an organism by means of which it responds as an integrated, dynamic system to external forces, usually in some relation to its own past and future. It’s distinguishing feature is awareness. It has the capacity to know and influence its environment (consciously and unconsciously). For the purpose of understanding Mind is divided into three: intelligence (buddhi), ego (ahamkara) and mind (manas) – each with its respective functions. However they are a single functioning unit and not separate parts.

  • Buddhi (“budh” = to wake up, recover consciousness, observe)  accounts for the capacity of illumination, abstraction, determination, certainty. It is the seat of virtue, non-attachment and wisdom. When the mind (Manas, see below)  is registering the objects of thought, it is the intelligence (Buddhi) that discriminates, determines and recognizes. In contemplation, the mind (Manas) raises objects of thought, and the intelligence (Buddhi) dwells upon them.
  • Ahamkara is ego – it is the vast reservoir of instinctive impulses dominated by pleasure and pain. It is the individuating and arrogating principle, the storehouse of all experiences. It is the first manifestation of individual consciousness, personal position, individual identity. It rationalized nothing, but is satisfied with things as they are. It’s function is the testing of reality, accepting or rejecting the demands of wishes made by impulses emanating from the individual organism.
  • Manas is mind – the group of cognitive processes that have the capacity of discovering relationships and performing mental processes. It is the seat of responsible conscious activity. It accounts for the process of rationalization. It is the seat of desire and functions in association with the knowing senses and working senses. It can perceive but cannot conceive and is continually vacillating between objects.

In relation to the external world, the mind (manas) perceives and presents, the ego (ahamkara) arrogates; and the intelligence (buddhi) discriminates, decides and resolves, after which action arises. These three aspects constitute the Mind (Citta) as a whole.

Abstract Sense Powers (Indriyas )

The knowing senses (Jnanendriyas) are the powers to hear, feel, see, taste & smell. They function respectively through the organs of ears, skin, eyes, tongue & nose.

The working senses are the powers to express (working of ideas, not just production of sound) , procreate (recreation and passive enjoyment, not just the physical act), excrete (general processes of rejection, not just elimination) , grasp (permeating thing, not just handling objects) and move (mentally not just physically). Their physical organs are respectively voice, sex organs, anus, hands and feet.

Existence is tying experiences together into an endless chain; life is the force that holds them.

Tanmatras (5 Subtle Elements)

These are the manifestations of sounds, touch, form, flavor & odor. They are the subtle body – not yet massive.

Bhutas (5 Gross Elements)

These are the last stage of manifestation – the appearance of gross elements: ether, air, fire water & earth. They are the result of the aggregation of the subtle elements. Each gross elements evolves out of the one preceding it. They are transformed states of original nature characterized by the three qualities of Sattva, Rajas & Tamas.

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