Introducing Buddhi

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

You have to understand the nature of buddhi. Manas is devoid of any guna. There is no guna in manas. It is only the emerging point, the volcano head from where the lava comes up. Manas is the emerging point of all the experiences of the mind. What you are doing in manas pratyahara, in manas antar mouna, is stopping all those emerging experiences which come to the surface of your awareness and cognition: that is the extent of antar mouna. Anything that comes to the surface of your awareness and that you are able to recognize as being part of your expression and are able to identify with and act according to that, is the manas level. There the ideations come, the thoughts come, the plans are made, sequences are seen and implemented by thinking, by rationalizing, by thinking, by rationalizing, by thinking. It is colourless. It is only the emerging point of everything that is contained in the lower three strata of the volcano, the mental volcano. The next level, the next strata is buddhi. Buddhi has two predominant qualities: 60 percent predominance in buddhi is of rajas; 30 percent predominance in buddhi is of tamas, and 10 percent of buddhi is sattwa.

Buddhi becomes the agent for motivating and for creating motion in a state of inertia. That is the rajas component. This rajas component is also attached to and associated with the identity of ‘me’. Without the awareness of ‘me’, rajas does not come up. This is the only link that buddhi has with ego, the ‘me’. That ‘me’ in buddhi is always prominent; that ‘I’ in buddhi is always prominent. The prominence of ‘I’ in buddhi is seen as selfishness, where I desire everything for myself. That is the prominence of ego in buddhi. Due to the pre-prominence of ego in buddhi, in the rajasic dimension, which is 60 percent, self-oriented awareness develops to a great extent. As soon as the self-oriented awareness develops, anything that is connected to the self becomes highlighted: image, prestige, esteem, you can add ‘self’ in front of all these different words to define different expressions of that ego in the rajas state in buddhi.

Due to this rajas state, buddhi becomes an identification with ‘I’, buddhi also becomes a tool to manipulate the environment, the senses and the people. Chitta is not a tool to manipulate people, the environment or the senses, it is buddhi which becomes the tool to manipulate the environment, the senses and people. The prominent nature of buddhi is always rajasic.

When due to the rajasic nature, the desire to control and manipulate and the ‘I’ are coming together, then what does one look for in another person? Either shortcomings or their weaknesses. Where is the Achilles’ heel where I can shoot the arrow? That is the first thing that buddhi sees in everybody, the shortcoming. Buddhi knows that the shortcoming will become the failure of that person, and it can manipulate it for its own gains.

When we look at a person, we automatically question and observe, ‘What are the flaws of character, of nature, of personality? What are the insecurities, what are the fears, what are the anxieties? Is that person an anxious person or a strong person, a determined person or changeable, pliable person?’

Friendship is always made with those who are pliable for the need to manipulate. Friendships are never made with those who are strong for you can’t change their views, opinions or attitudes. If you see a gathering of people, all talking away in one corner, that is the weakness which is in all of them because that has brought them together. They are looking at the weaknesses of everyone, criticizing, complaining, instigating another person to say something which highlights another weakness, which highlights another flaw, which highlights another fault. That is the rajasic buddhi.

Tamas kicks into this rajasic buddhi, when you know that you are able to control and manipulate the person, control and over power the person. Then the relationship changes from friend to master and victim. It is the buddhi and rajas which create havoc in our interactions with other people, in our perception about ourselves, and that is where all the conflict lies.

Buddhi is further supported by expectations and desires and deep-rooted cravings and instincts. When they appear, buddhi analyses those instincts and cravings and gives them justification because they also support your nature, your being, your ‘I-ness’. The negatives are always supported by buddhi as they are supporting the I-ness, whereas the positive is not actually acquirable by buddhi. It is easy to imbibe negative traits and negative habits; it is difficult to imbibe good traits and good habits. Even the basic restraint in life is not possible, knowing full well that something is not good for us, we still do it. Even that basic, simple restraint that can be a life-saver is not appreciated by the individual. And this kind of individual wants to be realized, illuminated? It is not practical nor possible.

What is possible is the management of the imbalances created by buddhi. Buddhi looks at four aspects of the personality defined as strength, weakness, ambition and need using the SWAN theory. SWAN is a practice of pratyahara. Initially SWAN was presented in a written form, not a meditative form. The same thing in a meditative form becomes a pratyahara practice for the buddhi dimension. Writing is a precursor to meditation, writing supports your meditation.

Published in Raja Yoga Yatra 2