Bhagavad Gita Retold

According to Indian Vedic philosophy, three energies permeate the world – Satvik (referred to as White in this text), Rajsik (referred to as Grey) and Tamasik (referred to as Black). At any point, one of three energies is dominant in the person (and by extension in community, society or country). Fear, insecurity and Ego are perhaps the most fundamental drivers behind the manifestation of the three energies. These energies will be discussed in details later in the text.

 

However select few people are able to transcend the ebb and flow of the three energies.

 

Spiritual texts list equanimity, oneness, self-control, detachment, humility, surrender, wisdom, compassion, fearlessness, and truthfulness as qualities of a person who have transcended the three energies. It is a tall order and it seems unlikely that we will come across people who will have such qualities in them. But then these are exactly the words that come to mind when one thinks of Christ, the Buddha, Krishna or Prophet Mohammed. There is also something uncannily common among all such spiritual leaders or prophets. They seem to be connected to some sort of “higher truth” or “absolute knowledge”.

 

Let’s attempt to get a little closer to the truth by analysing the qualities of the enlightened leader, as listed in the scriptures.

 

Equanimity

 

The Greeks called it Ataraxia, Bhagavat Gita refers to it as Stithpragya and the Buddhists called it Upekkha. Equanimity of an enlightened person is different from the equanimity of an ignorant person. An englightened person is deeply aware of all the sorrows of the world, yet he remains calm as he possesses a higher knowledge.

 

To understand equanimity, consider the analogy of a river cycle. In the beginning of the cycle, the water seeps from the rock in a state of purity. As it lands on the terrain it tries to amass into something significant and encounters resistance from the terrain. The young river is wild and agitated. As the river reaches a more mature state it becomes deeper and calmer and ultimately connects to the vast ocean.

 

Equanimity of an enlightened person is like the calm of a deep river. However equanimity is not the same as being emotionless or being a stoic. All the rough currents, which were visible on the surface of the young river, flow under the surface of a mature river. Yet the mature river has realized its path and flows in a serene manner.

 

Oneness

 

A mature river has accepted its destiny that it has to one day sub-merge itself into an ocean. On its way, the river has resisted the terrain and it has also mingled with other rivers. Ultimately all water bodies are connected in an every repeating cycle. Acceptance of such inter connectedness is another trait of an enlightened person.

 

In our life’s journey we encounter many people, who can be categorized into three sets. First, people we care about, for whom we feel love, affection, and attachment. We have invested our emotions in them. The second group are people we don’t know and towards whom we are neutral and detached. The third group are people we dislike, for whom we feel anger, or fear, even disdain. These are usually the people who have resisted our path at some point or the other.

 

We are emotionally over considerate about the first set of people. We are much more forgiving and understanding about our children. We are rational towards the second set of people. The third set of people, bring out the negative emotions of anger or vengeance in us.

 

However an enlightened person will judge all people by a similar yardstick and react towards them with a similar emotion. He knows that his personal journey is just part of a larger scheme and everyone else is on a journey of his own. Disagreements happen because people have a limited perspective. An enlightened person understands that if someone resisted him, it is because he is too focussed on his own personal journey. They rise above such a state of isolated thinking (or separation).

 

 

Self-Control

 

A mature river is not easily perturbed by a rough terrain or wild climate. It seems to know its path and move in a steady direction. Similarly a person with a golden energy is not swayed by worldly temptations. He knows his direction and feels complete within himself. He possesses remarkable self-control (the ability to control one’s emotions, behavior, and desires).

The control over worldly desires allows a person with golden energy to master negative emotions like Lust, Anger and Fear which are fuelled by desires. Too much desire causes Lust. Anger arises when someone or something comes in the way of attaining your desire. Fear is also a form of desire and arises when we want to hold onto fulfilled desires, never wanting to lose them.

Fear arises when we have something to lose. As infants we are not attached to anything, not even our own names. But this changes swiftly and toddlers begin talking about themselves. They do not say “I want to do this.” Instead they say, “Mary wants to do this.” And as we grow older we get more and more attached – to people, money, power, objects, and other things. Along with this attachment, a fear starts to develop, that of losing the things we love.

 

An enlightened person knows that most material objects and even people in his life were a part of his journey, but they are not bigger than the ultimate destiny. He never loses sight of the bigger picture and is thus not perturbed by a loss of a beloved object or person. He acknowledges the role of every person but knows that at some point they will get separated (just like river joins and separates from other rivers at many points). Such temporary separation does not bother him, as we are all but small parts of a larger scheme of things.

 

Just like the largest of rivers cannot ultimately carry anything with itself, a golden energy person knows that he will not be carrying any treasure with himself. Either the treasure will be left behind for someone else or it will be deposited in the vastness of the ocean. Thus he does not attach his ego or self-worth to material possessions. He does not even attach his ego to his knowledge. Knowledge may be the highest treasure, but it will also be left behind for someone else to nurture or deposited in the vast pool of cumulative human learning.

 

A person also picks up negative emotions or bad habits during his journey. Habits are formed slowly over a period of time, yet can be extremely hard to get rid of. Developing good habits require a lot of discipline. A golden energy person has the necessary self-control to inculcate good habits. These good habits could be exercise, eating healthy, meditation and reading. Such a person has control over his senses and understands that mindless sense gratification is neither beneficial for him or for the world at large.

 

Detachment

 

Detachment is the opposite of attachment, and it comes from understanding ones role in the bigger picture. Attachment can be towards objects, people and ambitions. All of these have a role to play in our journey, but none of them are an end in itself. Everything ultimately will dissolve in the cosmic sea of knowledge. Thus one should be attached to learning, rather than the objects which played a role in the learning.

 

However detachment is not the same as disengagement. Just like a river finds it path by resisting the terrain or mingling with other rivers or by reacting to the weather; true learning can only happen when a person engages himself in the world. Isolation and disengagement may breed ignorance and smugness (like a stagnant water body breeds illnesses).

 

A golden energy person is also thankful for the role played by different people in his life or the importance of nurturing small ambitions at different stages of his life. He is also tolerant and forgiving towards those who resisted his path at some point as learning is more important than the path itself. He knows that troublesome people will also ultimately discover their path and the role they are playing is just transitory.

 

The types of engagement with people, objects or ambitions change and adapt continuously throughout the course of a journey. The awareness about the ultimate reality and the cosmic cycle of life actually helps a person remain focused on the important people who will help him achieve his purpose. Yet he knows that at some stage he will separate from them.

 

Some people play a bigger role in our life than others. They may be at a more mature stage in their journey and may have reached golden energy. Sometimes it makes sense to align your purpose with the purpose of a more enlightened soul.

 

Humility and Surrender

 

As big and vast a river may be, its ultimate destiny is to dissolve into something bigger than itself. Even the greatest of kings, poets, philosophers and scientists are ultimately only serving a larger cause. A person with Golden Energy is humble, and understands this reality of the journey called life. True knowledge can only be achieved if a person surrenders to this truth. Such a person is not arrogant, despite being more wise, intelligent or informed as compared to most people. His humility makes him graceful.

 

Throughout life we meet many teachers, and there is always one special teacher whom everyone looked up to. This teacher was loving, compassionate, knowledgeable, humble and universally liked. One who was not afraid to admit that he or she did not know the answer to a question, but who would get back with the answer after some more thinking and research.

 

A golden energy person also knows that although his knowledge and wisdom is vast, there are always many things that he does not know.

 

Wisdom

 

Wisdom refers to a more practical application of knowledge or discernment. Wisdom is to know how much or how little one needs to survive in the world and when to withdraw. A wise person realizes that he does not too many material objects to live a life of comfort.

 

According to Vedanta, in life there are four pursuits – desires (kama), wealth (artha), dharma (rightful duty), and enlightenment (moksha). Not all people get the desire for enlightenment. Most of us keep getting trapped in the other three.

 

A wise person realizes that desires tend to go out of control and thus cultivates self-control. He knows that wealth is only means to an end and the end is comfort for the physical body. The comfort of physical body can also be obtained by cultivating good habits and discerning taste. One need not be extremely wealthy to eat a nutritious diet of fresh fruits, or to enjoy the best of music and movies or to read the best of the books. Wealth acquisition is not bad in itself, in fact it is one of the worldly duty that a person should engage in. However it should not come at the cost of mental trouble, either for you or for others.

 

A wise person cultivates a sense of right or wrong. He realizes that one may temporarily get ahead in life by wrong means, but that will create agitation in the mind of the wrong-doer (and is thus not worth it). He also helps other people in cultivating ethics by making them aware of the long term consequences of their actions.

 

Finally a wise person is tolerant enough to understand that often people indulge in wrong doings either because their ego is attached to the material objects or they do not see the broader perspective. In the traditional folk tale the wise person is the one to who ordinary people go to resolve the dispute. When the wise person is being made aware of the dispute, he doesn’t get disturbed by it. Often he is little amused, and then calmly helps the disputed parties in seeing each other’s perspective.

 

Thus a wise person learns to master desires, wealth acquisition and ethical conduct. Thus he is at peace with himself and this frees him to pursue the spiritual path.

 

Compassion

 

Compassion comes from the ability to see the path and struggles of another human being. Every soul is on its own unique journey and may be on a stage that is very different from you. A golden energy person is aware of the truth that ultimately everyone will get aligned to the universal purpose. This awareness reduces the feeling of separation.

 

Most souls first develop an awareness of their own journey. The love we get from our parents is usually taken for granted. Most of our love in the earlier part of our lives is reserved for ourselves and we are focused on our own journey. When a person falls in love with another human being with the aim of making him or her, the life partner; some of our ego boundaries are dissolved. “Falling in love” is accompanied with a change in worldview.

 

Yet most people retain ego boundaries between them (less so with their immediate family) and the rest of the world. We are very aware of the consequences of our actions on our family members, but much less aware about long term consequences of our actions on society at large.

 

It is perhaps impossible to function in this world without any ego boundaries. Yet people with golden energy are aware that such boundaries only have some temporary utility and from a higher perspective, all human souls are part of one large family. They have an ability to deeply empathise with people whose paths have never crossed with their own. They are sensitive about the consequences of their actions on the rest of the society, the same way a family man is aware of the consequences of his action on his loved ones.

 

Fearlessness

 

We are born ignorant and ignorance creates fear. When a person immigrates to a new country or place, he or she initially feels fearful. As he gains knowledge about law of the land and about people the fear diminishes. Similarly when the soul starts its journey, it feels fearful as it takes time to understand how to survive and succeed on earth.

 

This fear manifests into different emotions. Just like a young river is agitated and anxious to make its way, a fearful person may behave in a restless and inconsiderate manner. Young bright men of intellectual competence are often cocky and arrogant. They know they are capable yet they have not yet found their path. As they acquire more knowledge, worldly wisdom and discover their purpose; they mellow down and come across as actually confident.

 

The more knowledgeable a soul becomes about itself and the world, the more fearless it would be. People who are ahead of us in the learning curve play the role of teachers by guiding us in the right direction. The first teachers are our parents, who guide us according to their understanding.

 

Not all the teachers in our lives teach us the right knowledge. Our parents have the purest intentions towards their children; yet they sometimes end up misguiding their kids as their own self-awareness or worldly knowledge maybe limited (or as kids often complain – outdated). Yet all teachers play a role in our learning.

 

Truly enlightened teachers never impose their belief systems on their students. They point towards knowledge in subtle ways and let the students make their own choices. They never impose their ways on other’s self-will. Neither do they attach their ego to the success or failure of their students.

 

Dissolving of ego boundaries and moving towards a state of oneness also reduces fear. Yet to become truly fearless, one has to conquer the ultimate fear- death. Many people do not want to dwell on the subject of death. Only when a near or dear one passes away, or when they have to make a visit to a hospital where they see other people struggling with fatal diseases; they are compelled to think about the topic.

 

A golden energy person is not only aware of death; he derives a lot of clarity from the fact that our journey has an end. Awareness of death makes him think fruitfully about his path and the people and means which will help him align his goals towards a purpose much bigger than himself.

 

Truthfulness

 

Truthfulness and fearlessness are almost intertwined. Anyone who lies, cheats and deceits to get ahead of others, is fearful of being caught. People who attach their ego or self-worth to money, power or honour often end up using short cuts for success. They rationalise it by saying that ultimately the world only focuses on the bottom line or everyone else is doing it. They feel threatened in presence of a golden energy person who can see through them.

 

Truth is to live up to your inner conscience, following your intellectual conviction. Any kind of lie or deception consumes the energy of the person who is weaving it. This hypocrisy can be seen in the body language of people. People who are not genuine often smile when they are actually seething and vice versa. An honest person on the other hand spontaneously speaks from an inner voice. His thoughts, words and actions are in tandem.

 

However a golden energy person does not utter words that would hurt others. There is no point in saying the truth, if its only long term consequence will be making someone miserable. Golden energy people neither lie nor are harsh on people who are still struggling to grasp the truth. They are capable of playfully engaging with all human souls. It is not an easy task as will be made clear by the next few paragraphs where the nature of White, Grey and Black Energy people will be elaborated.

 

White Energy

 

White Energy is synonymous with purity. A person with White Energy has purity of thoughts, words and actions which comes from a truth seeking nature. There is no hypocrisy in such people. They are driven by wisdom and creativity. Knowledge acquisition is almost a moral duty for them.

 

They often end up becoming professors, scientists or artists. Being knowledge driven from early on in life they typically do well in academics. However it does not mean that you will not find white energy people in uneducated section of the society. Anyone with a can do attitude or problem solving approach in life is a white energy person.

 

For example you may recall a waitress or nurse or office administrator who works beyond the call of duty. He will intuitively sense your requirement and do everything within his capability to make things easy for you. While going through the process of his task, he does not seem conscious about what he is getting paid. He will be cheerful and happy about the realization that his actions have some good and beneficial consequence for others. But because they are focused more on the process of their task (rather than their reward) they invariably excel in their work and are valued by their superiors.

 

Their cheerful attitude is also due to a mind-set of abundance. In any point of his career, the white energy person focuses on what he can do with his current job, resources and opportunities available to him, rather than cribbing about what he could have achieved in another workplace. Similarly as a manager he focuses on what he can make his team mates do; rather than cribbing about their shortcomings.

 

They can be hard task masters while managing teams because they are disciplined and focused, often expecting the same from their team. Yet they are loved and admired by their team, to the extent that even their excessive harshness is tolerated. They can give a lot of directional strength to their juniors and are natural teachers or mentors.

 

The white energy people are the ones whom you should invest your trust in. A manager can expect them to be reasonable about the constraints and challenges of the workplace. Yet they seem to have a detached air about them, which a less discerning manager may consider indifference toward organizational goals.

 

Their temperament is calm, gentle and peaceful. They have remarkable self-control and have healthy habits. They will not indulge themselves beyond a point in office parties or let themselves go in frivolous enjoyment. Their role models are people who make a big positive contribution in the world – Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs etc.

However, white energy people sometimes spend most of their life operating in the mode of goodness, so much so that they never learn how to deal with the negative energies of the world. Avoiding confrontation, they may become inward driven and reclusive. They start feeling that engaging with energies very different from themselves reduces their peace and blissfulness. In such a state they can be unpredictable and difficult to engage with.

 

They also often become arrogant and intolerant. They are not driven by material goods or power and start looking down upon people who are chasing such ephemeral possessions. Yet they do not realize that even knowledge or creativity has its own ego trappings. For a knowledge driven person, self -expression or fame becomes important. Sometimes they start chasing these goals of self-expression, losing their focus on the process itself. Sometimes they start enjoying fame so much, that honour becomes their driver (rather than knowledge). This pattern is often seen in many musicians and artists, who have an aura of purity when they start but lose it when they become successful. They then start operating in the mode of grey energy.

 

Grey Energy

 

Grey energy people are driven by honour, rank, power or money. They always focus on the result of their action. They often forget how to enjoy the journey to the goal and wait for the happiness they will get when they reach the end of the journey. They work hard for gaining a reward or recognition which they often pre-decide. When the reward is not to their liking, they get dejected and angry.

 

Since their clear focus is the next promotion, it is difficult for these employees to be self-driven. Their motivation is externally driven and if the rewards are not clearly in sight they start complaining that their work is stressful.

 

This is not the co-worker who volunteers for a difficult task. . Though they often work in teams, their focus is on their own goal. They first look for how they could achieve their goal and thereafter focus on team’s goals. This type of person is aggressive and achievement oriented. They are hyper, restless and are often on the move without clear direction which results in a waste of energy.

 

Such people seem to be running on a hedonic treadmill. They believe that if the get they next promotion or next jump in career, they will be happier as they will move into a bigger house or buy a bigger car. Yet they will come back to the same restless state after a temporary surge in happiness due to a materialistic improvement in lifestyle. It is extremely difficult to satisfy the Grey Energy individuals.

 

When they are around, people are not at ease, the atmosphere is one with nervous and restless energy. They choose professions that allow them to express this energy, professions such as politics, armed forces, corporate leaders, business, farming, sports, etc.

 

Kings are good stereotypical example of grey energy individuals. They attached their egos with the grandness of their empires which was often the real driver for waging mindless wars. Similarly many modern CEOs are keen on empire building even if it comes at a cost to society. In fact often a CEO retains the cash within the organization and invests it in large but unprofitable projects, opting for scale over profitability. Driven by their egos, they ignore the main goal for existence of corporations – long term profitability for the shareholders.

 

The Corporate structure itself stimulates the grey energy of its workers. Most corporations are more focused on the outcome rather the process. People who do well in a typical corporate set up are those who are good at delivering the goals within certain timelines and are good at marketing themselves within the organization. Corporate governance and ethics of a workplace starts going down when owners emphasize outcome over the process. For example if a manager tells his sales team (either directly or indirectly), that he wants the team to achieve the targets no matter what they say to the clients, the ethics of the team will go down. Similarly if a board is focused on short term profitability, they will make the CEO very restless.

 

Unlike a white energy workers who can reason with logic and create new body of knowledge, grey energy workers are usually better at applying practical knowledge. In fact they are only interested in acquiring knowledge they can apply at the workplace. They do not understand the energy and enthusiasm of white energy workers who seem curious to learn about everything. However it is the grey energy worker who never says “I don’t know” or “this is new for me” in the board meeting. When presented with new information a grey energy worker will nod along with an “I know” attitude. He partly does it because he is trying to put on a show of being knowledgeable. But unlike a true knowledge seeker, a grey energy person tends to focus on what he already knows (or the part of information that he knows); whereas a genuinely curious person is focused on the new information he has just picked up.

 

Unlike the white energy people who are truth seeking and rational; grey energy people are rationalizing. They will sing the praise of the current employer and will often mould their personality to suit their current workplace. Their motto is “whose bread I eat, his song I will sing”. Once they change their jobs, they will be more forthcoming about the flaws in their previous workplace. However they are more politically astute and aware about interpersonal dynamics of the workplace. They are selfish and resort to politicking to get ahead of more deserving colleagues.

 

Grey energy workers are driven by power and money; thus they admire people who are in high paying or powerful positions within their organization. A white energy person however will not respect a superior or any other successful person; if he feels that the success was achieved by unsavoury process or the person does not deserve the rank or money. For a grey energy person it is the level of success that matters whereas for a white energy person the process, long term impact and the freedom and independence that came with the success matters more.

 

Grey energy people feign loyalty and trust but it is easier to manage them with incentives and legally thorough contracts. They are useful for organizations as getting things executed within the constraints of time and resources come naturally to them. They are also good at organizing teams and putting processes and structure in a workplace. They are good tactical thinkers and are good at selling themselves and their organization to the outside world.

 

Black Energy

 

Black energy workers are lazy and unenergetic. When they are around, everything moves in slow motion. They are slow and do not understand the importance of time or importance of finishing a task quickly. They have a very narrow perspective and seem oblivious to the consequence of their actions on others. They have a carefree attitude about timelines.

 

They are driven by momentary pleasure. They enjoy frivolous and mindless activities like idle gossip, useless chatter or letting themselves go in parties. Their career goal seems to be finding a job where they will have the maximum fun and will have to work the least. They will always crib jobs they almost got or opportunities that they missed.

 

They get confused and distracted very easily. They will often ask for guidance as they are generally confused most of the time. As soon as you guide them they will leave your presence smiling, with a happy note saying “you have given me a new path”. But soon you will see them going in different direction, not intentionally but unintentionally. A mentor or manager will feel drained after trying to coach such a person. It will feel like that all effort to guide them in right direction has been in vain.

 

Such workers have piecemeal knowledge about many things but are neither genuinely curious like white energy workers nor well informed like the grey energy ones. They are also blind about the interpersonal dynamics around them. Often they are unaware that they will be the first one to get fired if the office is asked to downsize.

 

While grey energy people are rationalizing; black energy people seem downright delusional. Often they start living in a web of falsehood. They start manipulating their juniors by using fear to make them toe their line. They can adopt devious tactics in negotiating by lying to the other person to make him feel that his product or service is useless. Lying all the time to others, they often start believing them.

 

As managers, black energy people can crush the confidence of young workers. They are excessively critical and fault finding, which is a manifestation of their own insecurity. A young worker who is not discerning enough may mistake such falsehood for genuine feedback and may start doubting his abilities. While grey energy manager will be selfish, a black energy manager is actually malicious. He will easily become jealous of younger more capable colleague and will exaggerate his flaws to undermine him.

 

Sometimes the person with black energy behaves in such a blind manner, that others feel that he has lost all perspective. A businessman in the mode of black energy mode will end up taking impulsive and stupid decisions that cannot be justified by any rational logic. We often see celebrities indulging in such behaviour. Some of the actions of Mike Tyson or Tiger Woods baffle us. It seems like they threw everything away for few moments of madness.

 

When Black Energy becomes dominant in a person he/she can become addicted to Alcohol, Drugs and even sex. All such addictions represent mindless indulgence in momentary pleasures without any thought given to long term consequences.

When a worker is operating in the mode of black energy, he can neither be reasoned with nor motivated with incentives. He has to be observed and managed.

All the three energies misunderstand and distrust each other and people have a preference to engage with similar energy types. The enlightened person with golden energy is capable of engaging with all the three energies without bias for any energy in particular.

 

This may sound mystifying, since clearly there seems to be hierarchy of white, grey and black. However all the scriptures assert that all energies or souls are equal in the eyes of the lord. In the process of unravelling this apparent contradiction lies the secret to acquiring the golden energy qualities described earlier in the text. Another way to put it is that someone who has really understood the qualities of golden energy, would see white, grey and black as equal. Perhaps the reader should read the earlier part of the text again.

 

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