Due to association with the three modes of material nature, I, the eternal living being have become entangled within the material dimension. Forgetting who I am, I eternally search for something that does not exist within the confines of the universe.
Every living being within the universe is forced to act by the influence and control of the three modes of material nature. According to his past activities he has received a different body created by the material nature. The Supreme Lord is the source of material nature and is the cause of all the manifestations of living entities within this material world.
I am influenced to act by the modes of nature in the same way the moon influences the tides of the ocean, the ocean having no power to resist the moon’s pull. I am pulled in one direction or another according to what mode of material nature is acting on me. My resultant actions are being carried out by material nature. I am dragged along for the ride, falsely thinking that I am in control, my life being on autopilot programmed by my destiny.
A prisoner within a cell has the freedom to sit on his bed or not, he can move from one wall to the other, he can decide to do different activities within the cell but he doesn’t have freedom to do anything he wants to outside of the cell. He is forced to act within the confines of the cell.
I am confined within a particular body and the cell and walls of my confinement are the three modes of material nature.
In the Mode of Ignorance, my cell is dark, the air is stale and dank, the cell is small and cramped, dirty and grimy. I am given stale, rotten food, I crave intoxicants, I smoke, and I simply want to sleep and dream, I am despondent, lazy and mad. I am homeless.
In the Mode of Passion, my cell is a mansion, I am famous, wealthy, arrogant, proud, lusty, my goals and desires are endless, my food is animal flesh and pungent spicy dishes, enjoyed with wine and liquors. I am driven to satisfy all my senses with unlimited goals and am never satisfied and always agitated.
In the Mode of Goodness, my cell is a beach house, clean, light, airy, stocked with fresh fruit, vegetables, grains, milk products, my interests are illuminating, I am intelligent, I feel I am superior, and I am conditioned by happiness.
“Material nature consists of the three modes – goodness, passion, and ignorance. When the living entity comes in contact with nature, he becomes conditioned by these modes”. Bg. 14.5
The living entity, because he is transcendental, has nothing to do with this material nature. Still, because he has become conditioned by the material world, he is acting under the spell of the three modes of material nature. Because living entities have different kinds of bodies, in terms of the different aspects of nature, they are induced to act according to that nature. This is the cause of the varieties of happiness and distress.
MODE OF GOODNESS
O sinless one, the mode of goodness, being purer than the others, is illuminating, and it frees one from all sinful reactions. Those situated in that mode develop knowledge, but they become conditioned by the concept of happiness. Bg. 14.6
The mode of goodness causes one to become mostly free from sinful activities and is the most conducive mode to understand spiritual truth. Conditioning by the mode of goodness results in greater wisdom and intelligence, a greater sense of happiness, and a minimum of material miseries. One is more or less free from sinful reactions and believes life is pleasant.
When one dies in the mode of goodness, he is promoted temporarily to a higher heavenly planet. This is awarded because the mode of goodness is the purest form of existence in the material world.
Currently the population of the world is mostly under the influence of the modes of passion and ignorance so people are not happy or prosperous. If a certain percentage of the population is elevated to the mode of goodness, then there is the possibility for peace and prosperity all over the world. Transcendental knowledge can bring about this change.
The goal of life is not just to be in the mode of goodness because being conditioned by this mode will result in further births in the material dimension.
The goal is to transcend the modes of material nature and be situated in my eternal spiritual position of pure loving service to the Supreme Lord. As I progress on the path of sadhana bhakti I will move into the mode of goodness and then beyond.
My consciousness is purified in the mode of goodness, I think clearly, I understand more, my suffering is lessened, my sense of happiness increases, and I make tangible progress in my existence.
A person who dies in the mode of goodness may be promoted to a higher heavenly planet to enjoy the results of his pious activities.
MODE OF PASSION
The mode of passion is born of unlimited desires and longings, O son of Kuntī, and because of this one is bound to material fruitive activities. Bg. 14.7
The mode of passion is characterized by the attraction between man and woman. Woman has attraction for man, and man has attraction for woman. This is called the mode of passion. And, when the mode of passion is increased, one develops the hankering for material enjoyment. He wants to enjoy sense gratification. For sense gratification, a man in the mode of passion wants some honor in society, or in the nation, and he wants to have a happy family, with nice children, wife, and house. These are the products of the mode of passion. As long as one is hankering after these things, he has to work very hard. Therefore it is clearly stated here that he becomes associated with the fruits of his activities and thus becomes bound by such activities. In order to please his wife, children and society and to keep up his prestige, one has to work. Therefore, the whole material world is more or less in the mode of passion. Modern civilization is considered to be advanced in the standards of the mode of passion. Formerly, the advanced condition was considered to be in the mode of goodness. If there is no liberation for those in the mode of goodness, what of those who are entangled in the mode of passion?
O chief of the Bhāratas, when there is an increase in the mode of passion, the symptoms of great attachment, uncontrollable desire, hankering, and intense endeavor develop. Bg. 14.12
When I am in the grip of the mode of passion, my life becomes full of anxiety because I am driven to provide for my family’s wants which always increase beyond what I can provide. Or, I experience broken relationships because I am just not satisfied. Or, my income doesn’t provide enough for all my desires even if I become a billionaire. I am always defeated in finding full satisfaction and I suffer so many miseries along the way.
The mode of passion makes me believe I will find happiness in my intense endeavors but the reality is that the reward of happiness is always out of reach and I am so stressed out and in so much anxiety just trying to keep it all together.
A person who dies in the mode of passion takes birth again in the human form to continue the struggle for fruitive results.
MODE OF IGNORANCE
O son of Kuru, when there is an increase in the mode of ignorance madness, illusion, inertia and darkness are manifested. Bg.14.13
When there is no illumination, knowledge is absent. One in the mode of ignorance does not work by a regulative principle; he wants to act whimsically for no purpose. Even though he has the capacity to work, he makes no endeavor. This is called illusion. Although consciousness is going on, life is inactive. These are the symptoms of one in the mode of ignorance.
From the mode of ignorance, foolishness, madness and illusion develop. We can see the effects of the mode of ignorance in a person who is considered a “loser”. Nothing goes his way, he takes shelter in drinking or drugs, his decisions are mistakes, he chases dreams but never makes any progress, he doesn’t know what to do, and he ends up homeless, unclean and crazy. This is an extreme example while others influenced by the mode of ignorance are still functioning in the lower levels of society.
In their next life, a human in the mode of ignorance will be demoted to take birth in a species lower than the human species, such as animal or plant.
The poor, addicted, homeless person ended up there by being overwhelmed by the mode of ignorance.
A rich, famous businessman attained success because he was pushed by the mode of passion.
A very wise philosopher attained his position due to his lifestyle conditioned by the mode of goodness.
The three modes of nature are created by the Supreme Lord to provide the conditioned living being with unlimited desires and unlimited actions to fulfill the primary desire: “I want to be the lord and controller” within the material dimension.
I am tricked into believing that I choose to live my life in a certain way, when in reality, I am manipulated by the modes of nature to have certain desires according to which mode or combination of modes are acting on me.
In the same way, when I engage in an activity, I am forced to act by the unseen power of the modes of material nature. I fully believe I am determining my success and failure, but I have been set up every time by the superior force of the three modes to make particular decisions and accept the results. I am not in control.
The cure which makes me immune to the three modes of material nature is the process of devotional service which purifies my heart and consciousness. I am taken higher into the mode of goodness and then beyond to full spiritual consciousness completely free from all material influence and defects. This transcendental spiritual condition is perfect goodness.
When the embodied being is able to transcend these three modes, he can become free from birth, death, old age and their distresses and can enjoy nectar even in this life. Bg. 14.20