The Forms of Tamasic Equality

The transition from the normal life of desire to a life based on the spiritual consciousness and not subject thereby to the gunas, is not one that occurs generally instantaneously, but is a process of transition as each of the strands of the body, life energy, emotions, and mind are taken up and modified.

During this process, there are, for different individuals, different starting points based on their particular manifested nature, as well as the ongoing play of the gunas as long as the individual is still involved in Nature. The development of equality, therefore, is also subject to the play of the gunas until such time as the liberation of the consciousness brings about the true and complete spiritual equality.

Sri Aurobindo describes the situation, starting with what he calls “tamasic equality”: “The beginning of equality may be sattwic, rajasic or tamasic; for there is a possibility in the human nature of a tamasic equality. It may be purely tamasic, the heavy equability of a vital temperament rendered inertly irresponsive to the shocks of existence by a sort of dull insensibility undesirous of the joy of life. Or it may result from a weariness of the emotions and desires accumulated by a surfeit and satiety of the pleasure or else, on the contrary, a disappointment and a disgust and shrinking from the pain of life, a lassitude, a fear and horror and dislike of the world: it is then in its nature a mixed movement, rajaso-tamasic, but the lower quality predominates. Or, approaching the sattwic principle, it may aid itself by the intellectual perception that the desires of life cannot be satisfied, that the soul is too weak to master life, that the whole thing is nothing but sorrow and transient effort and nowhere in it is there any real truth or sanity or light or happiness; this is the sattwo-tamasic principle of equality and is not so much equality, though it may lead to that, as indifference or equal refusal. Essentially, the movement of tamasic equality is a generalisation of Nature’s principle of …self-protecting recoil extended from the shunning of particular painful effects to a shunning of the whole life of Nature itself as in sum leading to pain and self-tormenting and not to the delight which the soul demands.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 19, Equality, pp. 183-184