The Bhagavad Gita provides an extensive review of the operation of the three Gunas, the qualities of Nature, Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas. These qualities are always interacting and changing based on that interaction. There is no consistency or constancy in how an individual responds so long as he is subject to the operation of the Gunas, which is implicit in every action undertaken by the external surface personality. The inconstancy that results means that an individual who is normally quiet, thoughtful and reserved may, under certain conditions or influences, become imbalanced and disruptive. It means that someone who is normally active and ambitious will go through periods of despondency and lack of effort. There are innumerable examples that make it clear that if an individual believes he is constant and secure in his beliefs and actions, he is likely only referring to a specific aspect of his nature, and does not see or recognise the times and circumstances when his reactions are quite the opposite.

The Mother notes: “You can be a different person at different moments in your life. I know people who took decisions, had a strong will, knew what they wanted and prepared to do it. Then there was a little reversal in the being; another part came up and spoilt all the work in ten minutes. What had been accomplished in two months was all undone. When the first part comes back it is in dismay, it says: ‘What!…’ Then the whole work has to be started again, slowly. Hence it is evident that it is very important to become aware of the psychic being; one must have a kind of signpost or a mirror in which all things are reflected and show themselves as they truly are. And then, according to what they are, one puts them in one place or another; one begins to explain, to organise. That takes time. The same part comes back three or four times and every part that comes up says: ‘Put me in the first place; what the others do is not important, not at all important, it is I who will decide, for I am the most important.’ I am sure that if you look at yourself, you will see that there’s not one among you who has not had the experience. You want to become conscious, to have goodwill, you have understood, your aspiration is shining — all is brilliant, illuminated; but all of a sudden something happens, a useless conversation, some unfortunate reading, and that upsets everything. Then one thinks that it was an illusion one lived in, that all things were seen from a certain angle.”

“This is life. One stumbles and falls at the first occasion. One tells oneself: ‘Oh! One can’t always be so serious’, and when the other part returns, once again, one repents bitterly: ‘I was a fool, I have wasted my time, now I must begin again….’ At times ther eis one part that’s ill-humoured, in revolt, full of worries, and another which is progressive, full of surrender. All that, one after the other.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 5, Organisation, Harmonisation, Unification, pp. 136-137

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 19 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.