Yoga 1.16: Supreme Non-Attachment

As I sort through my Goodwill pile, trying to let go of some very emotional tshirts from years past, I’m reminded how freaking hard it is to let go of STUFF… LITERAL stuff.

In the yogic philosophy we consider everyone to be made up of a combination of (or strictly one) elements. These are called ‘Gunas’. The three gunas are :

  • Rajas- characterized by projection, confidence
  • Tamas- characterized by lethargy, a veil of unknowing
  • Sattva- considered to be the goal Guna, this state is the most divine in nature.

In moderation all three gunas are important in our human life. It is not bad to project your view on your children, that’s how you raise children, but if you start to project your opinions on everyone around you- then it is showing up in excess. If you sometimes are lower in energy, or truly do not know something- that’s not wrong. However, if you are constantly ignorant to everything around you, you could get into a few pickles. The overall goal is to be Sattvic, or more divine in nature.

So this Sutra states:

The highest level of dispassion, leading to self-realization, takes place when the aspirant is free from all forms of “thirst,” including the desires resulting from the interplay of sattvicrajasic, and tamasic forces of nature.

These Gunas, or natural states in the world, start to consume us over time. We begin to identify with being certain things (I am confident, I am pretty, I am fat, I am mean, I am awesome, I am slow, I am fast, I’m a woman, I’m married, I have children, I’m divorced, I work for ‘X’ company, I have ‘X’ IQ) ways of being and adopt them as “who we are”. Again, none of this in moderation is bad although it will hold us back from enlightenment. Those Gunas and labels are not who we are. We are not just our sex. We are not just our age, or our sexual orientation, or our job, or our disposition or eve personality, we are more than that- and when we disassociate with the labels we place on ourselves, PLUS our physical world (my high school drama shirts) we truly step into self- realization.

So this is definitely easier said than done. We live in a culture and world that thrives off of labels. Without labels, we don’t know what the hell to do with ourselves… So my recommendation? Start small.

1. Give away physical attachments that have emotional memories (like shirts).

2. Begin to notice when you assign yourself a label (i.e. I’m a woman) and then ask yourself, “is that really all I am?”

3. Begin to notice when you assign OTHERS labels

4. See if you can begin to erase those labels and just see everyone as the light that we are connected through…


Ok that homework assignment is tough- GOOD LUCK!

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