The quality of Tamas has as a major characteristic the sense of inertia. Nothing seems to be moving or advancing, there is little energy or will active to undertake action, there is an overpowering sense of helplessness, weakness, failure and dullness.
Many times people confuse dullness or torpor with ‘peace’. There is a serious qualitative difference that represents the characteristic of Tamas being replaced by a quality of Sattwa. In dealing with the physical consciousness, therefore, Sattwa must be applied to offset and modify the natural tamasic energy of the physical basis. With the advent of Sattwa, there is a brightening of the understanding, a sense of peace and clarity and a rising of aspiration and faith that is missing when one is under the influence of Tamas.
Sri Aurobindo observes: “The first means is not to get upset when it [inertia] comes or when it stays. The second is to detach yourself, not only yourself above, but yourself below and not identify. The third is to reject everything that is raised by the inertia and not regard it as your own or accept it at all.”
“If you can do these things then there will be something in you that remains perfectly quiet even in the greatest inertia. Through that quiet part you can bring down peace, force, even light and knowledge into the inertia itself.”
“The physical sadhana is to bring down the higher light and power and peace and Ananda into the body consciousness, to get rid of the inertia of the physical, the doubts, limitations, external tendency of the physical mind, the defective energies of the vital physical (nerves) and bring in instead the true consciousness there so that the physical may be a perfect instrument for the Divine Will. The food and care for the body is only to get it into good condition, afterwards it would not be necessary to attend to such things.”
Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 9, Transformation of the Nature, Transformation of the Physical, pp. 259-262
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