|15. To the illuminated man all existence (in the three
worlds) is considered pain owing to the activities of the gunas. These activities are
threefold, producing consequences, anxieties and subliminal impressions.
"gunas" are the three qualities of matter itself, sattva, raja and tamas, or
rhythm, activity and inertia, and are inherent in all forms. The student needs to remember
that every form on every plane is thus characterized, and this is true of the highest form
as of the lowest, the manifestation of these qualifies only differing in degree.
To the man who is achieving perfection it becomes increasingly apparent how every form
through which he, the divine spiritual man is manifesting, causes limitation and
difficulty. The physical vehicle of the adept, though constructed of substance
predominatingly sattvic in nature, equilibrized and rhythmic, yet serves to confine him to
the world of physical endeavor and limits the powers of the true man. Speaking generally
it might be said that: 
- The attribute of inertia (or tamas) characterizes the lower personal self, the sheaths
of the threefold lower man.
- The attribute of activity is the prime characteristic of the soul, and it is this
quality which causes the intense activity and constant labor of the man as he seeks
experience and later, as he seeks to serve.
- The attribute of rhythm, or balance, is the quality of the spirit or monad and it is
this tendency to perfection which is the cause of man's evolution in time and space and
the factor which carries all life through all forms to the consummation. Let us bear in
mind here, however, that these three qualities are the qualities of the substance through
which the triple spirit is manifesting in this solar system. The nature of spirit itself
we know not as yet, for we cannot think except in terms of form, however, transcendental
those forms may be. Only those souls who have attained the highest initiation and can pass
beyond our solar ring-pass-not know somewhat of the essential nature of that which we call
Coming to the practical manifestation of the gunas in the three worlds (in relation to
man) it can be noted that:
- The attribute of balance or rhythm distinguishes the mental vehicle. When the mental
body is organized and man is being directed by his mind, his life becomes stabilized and
organized also and the direction of his affairs proceeds in a balanced manner.
- The quality of activity or mobility is the  characteristic of the emotional or
astral nature and, when this is dominant the life is chaotic, violent, emotional and
subjected to every mood and feeling. It is primarily the quality of the desire life.
- Inertia is the quality dominating the physical body and the whole objective of the ego
is to break down that inertia and drive its lowest vehicle into an activity which will
bring about the desired ends. Hence the use and necessity for the guna of mobility and the
full play of the emotional or desire nature in the earlier stages of endeavor.
Pain is the product of these form activities, for pain is the result of the inherent
difference between the pairs of opposites, spirit and matter. Both the factors are
"at peace" essentially until brought into conjunction and both resist each other
and produce friction and suffering when united in time and space.
Patanjali points out that this pain is comprehensive, covering past, present and
- Consequences. Pain is brought about through the activity of the past and the
working out of karma as it is expressed in the adjusting of mistakes, the paying of the
price of error. The settling of past obligations and debts is ever a sorrowful process.
Certain past eventualities necessitate present conditions both of heredity, environment
and type of body, and the form, both of vehicle and group relations, is painful to the
soul, who is confined thereby.
- Anxieties. This concerns the present and  is sometimes translated -
apprehensions. If the student will study this term he will note that it covers not only
the fear of evil in suffering, but also the fear of failure in the spiritual body in
service. These equally cause pain and distress and parallel the awakening of the real man
to a realization of his heritage.
- Subliminal impressions, has relation to the future and concerns those forebodings
as to death, suffering and need which dominate so many of the sons of men. It is the
unknown and its possibilities that we fear both for ourselves and others, and this in its
turn produces pain.