As long as we remain bound to the ego-personality, we are caught in the play of the three gunas, or qualities of nature. Every individual is subject to all three, and their constant interchange. Thus, there will be times and circumstances where tamas, the quality of indolence and darkness comes to the forefront. With tamas in the ascendant, we can experience a sense of emptiness, a sense of being at “loose ends” and a lack of interest in doing anything or concentrating. The question then is how the spiritual seeker can, or even should, respond, when these tamasic states are in the forefront. Wallowing in tamas, with various forms of distraction, or self-medication with drugs or alcohol, does not, obviously, provide any solution. The Mother’s prescription invokes bringing the powers of sattwa and rajas to bear to uplift the tamasic force with light, and positive energetic action.
The Mother notes: “There is nothing more contrary to the very reason of existence than this passing wave of boredom. If you make a little effort within yourself at that time, if you tell yourself: ‘Wait a bit, what is it that I should learn? What does all that bring to me so that I may learn something? What progress should I make in overcoming myself? What is the weakness that I must overcome? What is the inertia that I must conquer?’ If you say that to yourself, you will see the next minute you are no longer bored. You will immediately get interested and you will make progress! This is a commonplace of consciousness.”
“And then, you know, most people when they get bored, instead of trying to rise a step higher, descend a step lower, they become still worse than what they were, and they do all the stupid things that others do, go in for all the vulgarities, all the meannesses, everything, in order to amuse themselves. They get intoxicated, take poison, ruin their health, ruin their brain, they utter crudities. They do all that because they are bored. Well, if instead of going down, one had risen up, one would have profited by the circumstances. Instead of profiting, one falls a little lower yet than where one was. When people get a big blow in their life, some misfortune (what men call ‘misfortune’, there are people who do have misfortunes), the first thing they try to do is to forget it — as though one did not forget quickly enough! And to forget, they do anything whatsoever. When there is something painful, they want to distract themselves — what they call distraction, that is, doing stupid things, that is to say, going down in their consciousness, going down a little instead of rising up…. Has something extremely painful happened to you, something very grievous? Do not become stupified, do not seek forgetfulness, do not go down into the inconscience, you must go to the end and find the light that is behind, the truth, the force and the joy; and for that you must be strong and refuse to slide down.”
Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Vital, Boredom and Lack of Energy, pp. 53-56