The eighteen chapters in Bhagavad Gita, the 700-verse Hindu scripture, are designated each as a type of Yoga. Chapter 18, “Freedom through Renunciation”, describes three kinds of happiness “which comes from long practice, which leads to the end of suffering” (Bhagavad Gita 18:36). People differ greatly in “the pursuit of happiness” owing to the predominance of one of the three gunas.
“which at first is like poison, but at last like nectar – this kind of happiness, arising from the serenity of one’s own mind, is called sattvic” (Bhagavad Gita 18:37)
“comes from contact between the senses and their objects, and is at first like nectar, but at last like poison.” (Bhagavad Gita 18:38)
“when it is self-deluding from beginning to end, and arises from sleep, indolence and dullness.” (Bhagavad Gita 18:39)
Sattvic Happiness is born out of grace, blessings and self knowledge. Generally our mind is extrovert. We know the joy of sense pleasure well, but we may not know the joy that is possible in a mind that is pure, contemplative, and in meditation. If we get a taste of such happiness, we will leave Rajasic and Tamasic Happiness. The glamour and charm of sense pleasures no longer hold any attraction. When the source of happiness is discovered in our hearts, we will no more depend on the world to derive happiness.
Rajasic Happiness arises out of contact between the sense organs and sense objects. Such happiness depends on external factors and may lead to greed. More of it can result in indulgence, addiction and so on. Pain does not arise from realising the source of happiness within. No one would generally complain of too much happiness or boredom with external bliss. However, one may get tired of sense pleasures; the law of diminishing returns comes into play. Hence even if there may be initial joy, Rajasic Happiness is momentary, enslaving and possibly problematic.
Tamasic Happiness deludes a person in the beginning and end and arises out of laziness and forgetfulness. The happiness referred to here is the joy of a person who sleeps all the time. This is not physical sleep, which is refreshing, reenergising and rejunvenating, but a sleep of ignorance from which people do not wish to be awakened. They declare that “ignorance is bliss” and wish to remain in it.
Unlike Sattvic and Rajasic Happiness, Tamasic Happiness does not transform into anything. It does not lead to anything, but remains utterly inert. Sattvic and Rajasic Happiness lead to conclusions about their merit or demerit. Tamasic Happiness, on the other hand, simply lies there and wallows in its own inertia. It goes nowhere.
Sattvic people will become increasingly established in sattva. Rajasic people may “wise up and move up” to sattva. Those who are tamasic will stay right where they are. The essence of this is that sensible people do not go around trying to change others. The wise bless others and keep on working on themselves. Certainly they will encourage those with them on the path and even assist them, but they cannot put anyone on the path or keep them there.
“No being on earth, or among the blithe gods in heaven is free from the conditioning of these three Nature-born gunas.” (Bhagavad Gita 18:40)
Krishna speaks of humanity in general, saying:
“Content with his natural duty, each one achieves success. Listen now: I will tell you how this success can be found. A man finds success by worshipping with his own right actions the One from whom all actions arise and by whom the world is pervaded.” (Bhagavad Gita 18:45,46)
“One should not give up the work born of his nature (sahajam karma), even though it is flawed (sa-dosam); all actions are enveloped by flaws as fire is enveloped by smoke.” (Bhagavad Gita 18:48)
Sahaja means that which is innate, actually inborn. Karma is action. So sahajam karma is that kind of action, that way of life, which is a natural expression of our innate character, of our deep mind.
Even though there is smoke in the fire, fire is still considered to be the purest of all elements. Smoke does not make the fire impure. Thus, in conditioned life, all work is contaminated by the material modes of nature. On should not give up his natural occupation because there are some disturbing elements.
We do the best we can with what we have. The reward is infinite.