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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Book 2 - The Steps to Union
19. The divisions of the gunas (or qualities of matter) are fourfold; the specific, the non specific, the indicated and the untouchable.

It is interesting to note here that the gunas or qualities (the sum total of the attributes or aspects of the substance of our solar system) are fourfold. In this septenary division we have an analogy to the septenates found throughout our manifested universe. First we have the major three aspects of thought-substance:

1. Sattvic substance rhythm, equilibrium,
2. Rajasic substance mobility, activity,
3. Tamasic substance inertia, stability.
These three are divided into:
1. The specific manifested elements, form,
2. The unspecific the senses, force reactions, the tanmatras,
3. The indicated primary substance, the tattvas, atomic matter, [156]
4. The untouchable the great Existence who is the sum total of all these.
This sutra is intended to cover the technicalities of the form aspect of manifestation whether referring to the manifestation of a human atom or of a solar deity, and simply indicates the natural triplicity of substance, its septenary nature, and its various mutations. It expresses the nature of that aspect of divine life which is called Brahma by the Hindu, and the Holy Spirit by the Christian. This is the third aspect of the Trimurti or Trinity, the aspect of active intelligent matter, out of which the body of Vishnu or of the cosmic Christ is to be built in order that Shiva, the Father or the spirit may have a medium of revelation. It might therefore be of use if the nature of the four divisions of the three gunas were indicated, after giving the synonyms for these gunas.

The three gunas:

  1. The qualities of matter,
  2. The aspects of thinking substance, or of the universal mind,
  3. The attributes of force-matter,
  4. The three potencies.

These triplicities should be carefully studied as it is through them that consciousness in its various degrees becomes possible. We are here dealing with the great illusion of forms with which the Real Man identifies himself to his sorrow and pain throughout the long cycle of manifestation and from which he must eventually be liberated. [157]

A still vaster thought is also involved: the imprisoning of the life of a solar Logos in the form of a solar system, its evolutionary development through the medium of that form and the eventual perfection and release of that life from the form at the conclusion of a great solar cycle. The lesser cycle of man is involved in the greater and his attainment and the nature of his liberation is only relative to the greater whole.

1. The specific division of the gunas.

This specific or particularized division of the gunas is divided into sixteen parts which deal primarily with man's reaction to the tangible objective world.

  1. The five elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth. These are the directly involved effects of the unspecific or subjective sound or word.
  2. The five sense organs: the ear, the skin, the eye, the tongue and the nostrils, those physical organs or channels through which identification with the tangible world becomes possible.
  3. The five organs of action: voice, hands, feet, the excretory organs, and the organs of generation.
  4. The mind. This is the sixth sense, the organ which synthesizes all the other sense organs and eventually will make their use a thing of the past.

These sixteen means of perception and activity in the phenomenal world are channels for the real thinking man; they demonstrate his active reality and are the sum total of the physical facts relating to every incarnated son of God. Similary [158] in their cosmic connotation, they are the sum total of the facts demonstrating the reality of a cosmic incarnation. "The Word is made flesh" both individually and in a cosmic sense.

2. The unspecific division of the gunas.

These are six in number and concern that which lies back of the specific; they deal with that which is subjective and intangible, and with the force display which produces the specific forms.

Technically these are called in the Hindu books the tanmatras. They have to do with consciousness more than form and are the "special modifications of buddhi or consciousness" (Ganganatha Jha). They are:

  1. The element of hearing, or that which produces the ear, - the rudiment of hearing,
  2. The element of touch or that which produces the mechanism of touch, the skin, etc., - the rudiment of touch,
  3. The element of sight, or that which produces the eye,
  4. The element of taste, or that which produces the mechanism of taste.
  5. The element of smell, or that which produces the mechanism of smell.

Back of these five lies the sixth tanmatra or modification of the consciousness principle, the "feeling of personality" as it has been called, the "I am I" consciousness, the ahamkara principle. It is this which produces the sense of personal reality and of one's being a separated unit of consciousness. It is the basis of the great "heresy of [159] separateness" and the cause of the real or spiritual man being lured into the great illusion. It is this which forces man for long aeons to identify himself with the things of the senses and it is this too which eventually brings him to the position where he seeks liberation.

3. The indicated.

Back of the sixteen specialized divisions and back of the six unspecialized, lies that which is the cause of them all, which is called in the Hindu books Buddhi, or pure reason, the intellect apart from the lower mind, sometimes called the intuition, whose nature is love-wisdom. This is the Christ-life or principle, which in the process of taking incarnation or form, as we know it, manifests forth as the specific and the unspecific. It is as yet for the majority only "indicated." We surmise it is there. The work of Raja Yoga is to bring forth into full knowledge this vague surmise so that theory becomes fact and that which is latent and believed to exist may be recognized and known for what it is.

4. The untouchable.

Finally we come to the fourth division of the gunas or aspects, that "in which we live and move and have our being," the untouchable or unknown God. This is the great form of existence in which our little forms are found. This is the sum total of the thinking substance of which our little minds are part; this is the whole manifestation of God through the medium of the cosmic Christ of which each little Son of God is a [160] part. Of this untouchable and unknown the mind of man cannot as yet conceive.

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