Recently a young man asked us, “Why do we do things that we know will make us unhappy, even when we don’t really want to do them?” This is a universal dilemma, and one that brings so much suffering into life!

In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna asks this same question on behalf of all of us to his guru, Krishna: “What is it that draws me, even against my will, into delusion? What is that force?”

And Krishna replies, “It is the power of desire and anger, impelled by rajo guna.”

According to the teachings of India, there are three gunas, or qualities, that permeate all creation. The first is tamo guna, the downward-pulling energy that darkens our consciousness and binds us to such states as violence, lust, and greed.

How to Control Your Reactions A Touch of Light by Nayaswami Devi

“Rajo guna” is the activating quality that keeps us forever restless and attached to finding happiness outwardly.

Next is rajo guna, which Krishna mentioned in his answer: It is the activating quality that keeps us forever restless and attached to finding happiness outwardly through the mind and senses.

Finally there is sattwa guna, the elevating energy that leads us towards the search for truth and lasting inner happiness.

Rajo guna keeps us in a state of perpetual discontent and awakens desires. When these are frustrated, as inevitably they often will be, we become angry. Thus rajo guna activates both desire and anger, the twin enemies of true peace and happiness.

What can we do to overcome uninvited desires born of restlessness?

1) Be vigilant and watch the thoughts that drift through your mind before they build to become deep-seated desires. For example, you might think: “What a pretty car. I like that car. I Want that car. I NEED that car. But I CAN’T AFFORD THAT CAR. How frustrated I am!”

2) Counter little desires with will power and self-discipline: “That’s a nice car, but the one I have is just fine, and it’s all paid for. How happy I am!”

3) Simplify your life and get rid of “unnecessary necessities,” as Master called them. When we can live our life in uncluttered contentment, we begin to tune in to sattwa guna and to enjoy inner peace.

4) Perform all your daily tasks with attention and concentration. Our duties can be the best opportunities to train our mind to become one-pointed. Studies of brain activity show that happiness and concentration are closely aligned.

5) Meditate and energetically oppose restless tendencies. Anyone who has tried to meditate knows that this is no easy task, but it is the key to success and happiness. By concentrating at the spiritual eye, we can burn up the seeds of desires before they begin to trouble us.

All of these are ways to take control of your life and overcome desires. As Sri Yukteswar, Yoganandaji’s guru, said, “The forceful activating impulse of wrong desire is the greatest enemy to the happiness of man. Roam in the world as a lion of self-control; see that the frogs of weakness don’t kick you around.”

Towards victory in God,

Nayaswami Devi

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  1. In Joyful Gratitude and Divine Friendship, thank you, dear soul for the ever present, ever needed reminder. Namaste

  2. Thank you for this, Devi. While watching the Living Wisdom School play about Paramhansa Yogananda here in Palo Alto last year, I began to feel emotional. Sitting in the back row with Ishani, I thought, hm, I wonder if I can escape from emotion by relaxing at the spiritual eye. Surprisingly, I felt my awareness sinking into a place at that point that was completely peaceful and silent and free of all emotion. I was able to watch with interest, with compassion, but without any turbulent emotion at all. Now, I am a very, very rajasic person even at age 75. But this experience gave me a glimpse of what’s possible, and a bit of insight into the consciousness in which advanced souls live. I know that this experience was a special grace. But I’m also finding that simply focusing in that area during meditation while listening to whatever inner sounds appear, and continuing to do it with a kind of “stubbornness for joy” makes my day happier, more expansive and fun. Devi, thank you for encouraging us to deepen our awareness of the soul which is free of desire and restlessness.

  3. Dear Devi,
    So nice to hear your voice on the podcast – uplifiting my sights towards freedom from attachments. Thank you for the blessings of the Touch of Light messages. In divine friendship, Nayaswami Lalaan

  4. Thank you dear Devi for your beautiful and interesting article reminding everyone how much important is living in the light of Dharma, making every sincere effort to be in Integrity having Self-respect, manifesting Self-dignity and Self-Responsibility with our thoughts, words and actions for the highest good of all. Thank you for your Integrity being an example for everyone of a worthy role model 🙏

  5. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,

    Thank you for this wonderful blog 🙂
    The suggestions are very helpful


  6. I have been working with kriya in an attempt to overcome a life-long habit that I really want to eliminate. I will use your suggestion and visualize the seed of this habit being burnt up at the third eye! Thank you for your helpful tip! Blessings, Frank

  7. Pranam Ji

    Thank you so much, for the sharing, Which is a Blessing to keep the Soul at Peace. Aum.

    With Gratitude
    R Sundararajan

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