A life of sattva practises improves our awareness and therefore helps us recognize how the three modes cover our souls.
Learning from a surgeon, cricketer and a boxer
I learnt from a dear friend, Gaur Gopal Dasa, about an interesting exercise that explains the three modes effectively.
Three volunteers come forward to face the audience. They make a pick from three pairs of gloves -one of them puts on a surgeon’s gloves, the second a cricket player’s and the third, a boxer’s gloves.
Then we hand each one of them a thread and a needle. The challenge is to pass the thread through the eye of the needle in three minutes.
As the countdown begins, to the amusement of the audience, each of them scrambles to get it done within the time limit. Needless to say, the person wearing the surgeon’s gloves is the first one to pass the thread. The one with the cricketer’s gloves takes a little longer, and the boxer is a non-starter; he’s hardly able to even hold the thread and the needle, and has certainly lost the game from the word go. As the audience laugh at the clumsiness of the cricketer and the boxer, it’s obvious to all that what’s natural and easy to do with a free hand, is difficult and artificial when it’s covered with gloves.
After the game, we ask the audience for their realizations and for what they learn from the exercise. Most get the point – the free hand represents the uncovered, pure spirit soul and three different gloves represent the three modes; surgeon’s gloves denote the mode of goodness, the cricketer’s stands for passion and the boxer to ignorance. To the degree that the hand is covered, it’s difficult to thread the needle. Likewise to the extent we are covered up, our activities and freedom is concealed.
Just as a surgeon’s gloves are quite fine and comfortable and caused the least inconvenience in threading the needle, the mode of goodness, although it’s a covering on the soul, nevertheless gives more freedom and facility to act. Feeling an inner contentment, a person in the mode of goodness finds life comfortable and happy.
Since the cricketer’s gloves are thicker than that of the surgeon’s, there’s more difficulty in pulling the thread through the eye of the needle. In parallel, the mode of passion as compared to goodness, provides lesser freedom to act, and causes an inherent dissatisfaction and agitation in the consciousness of a person. And the mode of ignorance totally covers up the identity and the spiritual nature of the soul, just as the boxer’s gloves completely covered the original shape of the fingers and palms beyond recognition. Those addicted to drugs just can’t pull themselves to make life enhancing choices. They helplessly submit to Tamas.
To be continued…