The Divine Truth Behind the Quality of Sattwa

The progression towards realisation of a spiritual consciousness and standpoint in life involves the development, more and more, of predominantly sattwic qualities in the being. Sri Aurobindo describes Sattwa: “…the power that makes for assimilation and equivalence, right knowledge and right dealing, fine harmony, firm balance, right law of action, right possession and brings so full a satisfaction to the mind…”

At the same time, it must be recognised that Sattwa, too, is a deformation and limitation of the true spiritual light and joy of the divine consciousness, and it too, must be overcome eventually to achieve the status “beyond the Gunas” about which the Gita speaks. Sattwa is both in itself bound and limited in its power, and suffers from the ever-present opportunity for the other Gunas, Rajas and Tamas, to overpower it and thereby dominate and cloud the action of Sattwa. Additionally, the sattwic ego can block the rise of the soul to the next status through its own limitations.

Sri Aurobindo points out that “…there is at its high and distant source a greater light and bliss free in the free spirit. That is not limited nor dependent on limitation or rule or condition but self-existent and unalterable, not the result of this or that harmony amid the discords of our nature but the fount of harmony and able to create whatever harmony it will. That is a luminous spiritual and in its native action a direct supramental force of knowledge, jyotih, not our modified and derivative mental light, prakash. …That light is full of a luminous spiritual will and there is no gulf or disparateness between its knowledge and its action. That delight is not our paler mental happiness, sukham, but a profound concentrated intense self-existent bliss extended to all that our being does, envisages, creates, a fixed divine rapture, Ananda.”

“The liberated soul participates more and more profoundly in this light and bliss and grows more perfectly into it, the more integrally it unites itself with the Divine.”

While we may approach the spiritual standpoint through one or another of the Gunas and its originating true formation, and we believe that the cannot possibly be coexistent, eventually when the new standpoint has been achieved, there is a unification of the action such that Existence, Consciousness-Will, and Bliss all support one another. “Afterwards when we are able to rise above even the spiritual mind, we can see that each divine power contains all the rest and can get rid of this initial error.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part II, Chapter 17, Deva and Asura, pp. 451-452