The three modes are basically described as goodness, passion and ignorance. The mode of goodness has a good effect on us. So when we’re under the influence of the mode of goodness, we eat differently, we eat foods in the mode of goodness. We are attracted to mode of goodness lifestyles. We are attracted to quiet, nature is very attractive. We like to go and just sit and feel the peace, the calmness. We like a certain type of music: more quiet music, peaceful music. We are more philosophically inclined, thinking about higher subject matter, not what is just right here, right now, but, “Gee, I wonder why…”
As a result of this lifestyle, in general our bodies are healthy, because this is very good for the body. Our minds are very healthy. We are experiencing happiness – material happiness, but still happiness. So obviously this is a good position to be in. And, of course, along with that comes all good qualities: honesty, truthfulness, compassion, mercy, kindness, the desire to help other people, a service attitude – all kinds of good qualities under the influence of the mode of goodness. So obviously this is desirable.
Now, the mode of passion. Very passionate life. Because when we’re in the mode of passion we are always trying to achieve some goal, trying to get more things. We have big agendas, always climbing some ladder to success. Very, very involved in sense pleasure, our senses are very agitated: eating, seeing, hearing, touching, and, of course, the personification of that in action is sex life, very important, very much part of our life. Never satisfied, no matter how much we get, we want more, “Ok, I’ve got that, now I want more. What’s next? I get this, I want the next thing, the next thing.” Very agitated condition. Even if I’m embarking on a spiritual path, seemingly spiritual path, the purpose is to get more material pleasure. It’s all about, “What can I enjoy?” I am a consumer. So that’s a very unfavorable situation.
And then there is the mode of ignorance – tamas guna. This is very dark. Our life is very dark. We’re basically ignorant on everything, especially any type of spiritual understanding. We don’t have the ambition, just enough to get by. It’s characterized by a lot of intoxications, drinking, sleeping. People in the mode of ignorance sleep a lot. There’re basically just, “Yeah, man…” (laughing) Not too bright, like somebody turned the light off. In the mode of goodness the light is on. If you actually meet somebody in the mode of goodness, you can see some brightness there. They walk into the room and it’s like, “Wow,” some brightness. Person in the mode of ignorance walks into the room – and you can see darkness. Person in the mode of passion walks in…agitation (shows)…you feel it… he’s chewing gum, talking, cannot sit still. You say, “Sit quietly for a few of moments after the meditation,” he can’t do it, looking at his phone, “Who’s calling? Whom do I need to call? What was that last message? What am I going to eat today? What’s on at the movies?” It’s like you are tired though you just sat in the room. He is agitated, and you feel so tired.
So these are the conditions that affect us, control us. Yeah, they control us. And we do what they demand. So we’re helpless. And that’s not a good condition to be in. So It’s the best to be in the mode of goodness, the worst is to be in the mode of ignorance. In Kali-yuga, this age we’re living now, the mode of goodness almost doesn’t exist. Basically, people are in the modes of passion and ignorance. That’s the world we live in. You will find very little mode of goodness influence. But it’s available if we’re conscious, if we try to move in that direction.
So again the yoga lifestyle is designed to take us to that mode of goodness. It’s still a material condition, it’s not spiritual, but it’s the platform from which we can step off into true spiritual life. So the whole Vedic society was geared up to elevate people gradually from the modes of ignorance and passion to the mode of goodness, and then to what is called pure goodness – no material influence at all, pure goodness.