Can We Function Without Stress?

Speaking Tree, Aug 14, 2013, 12.00am IST, Janki Santoke.

While the medical fraternity acknowledges the role of stress as aggravator of many of our illnesses —some ailments could even be brought on by stress – in the corporate world, stress could enhance performance in some. While young students ask their parents to ‘chill,” many parents pressurize children to outperform their peers. So is stress recommended or not? Vedanta gives a clear answer to this quandary. It neither recommends nor forbids it but instead, formulates the cause and effect aspects of stress, in the way we relate to situations and people.

The three temperaments we have are known as tamas, rajas and sattva. Tamas is the state of inaction, ignorance and inertia. Rajas is the state of desire-ridden, passionate action, full of mental agitations. Sattva is the trans-active state, one of poise and contemplation. The purpose of human existence is to move from tamas to rajas and to sattva and from there to trans-sattva or Self-realisation.

A tamasic person needs stress to work. Where there is tamas, you need to inject rajas, that is, desire.  A tamasic person does not work. He has no interest in anything. He lives a vegetative existence. To get him to move is to apply rajas. He could be motivated by selfish desires. They will propel him out of his laziness. If a person does nothing, tell him that by working he will make money, he can buy what he likes, or achieve his heart’s desire, and this kind of selfish motivation makes him get up and move.

Rajas is already desire-ridden. A rajasic person is ever-stressed. For him, stress yields two results. First, it decreases his efficiency and secondly, it makes him stop working. When a person is stressed, he can’t think straight. The result is that he is likely to make mistakes at work. This consumes his time and energy and renders his work ineffective. The ultimate result of all the stress is that the person will have to stop the work as he cannot bear the stress. That’s why for the persons consumed by work, weekends and vacations are viewed as stress busters.

Rajas needs to be directed to sattva. The rajasic person could experience peace by directing his work towards higher, unselfish goals. In his regular work he needs to cultivate a higher vision and work for something beyond his mere personal, self-centred interests. A doctor could work for his five-bedroomed house or for the welfare of his patients. The calmness that this brings to his mind makes him not only more efficient but more capable in his work. All unselfish people have demonstrated their capacity for endless work.

Sattva works for an unselfish cause. A sattvic person is ever calm and peaceful. His actions are highly productive because they are not interrupted by mental agitations. He has clarity of thought and can get much better results with even less work. He is able to progress on the path of the highest ideal of Self-realisation. Working along this path, he transcends even sattva and reaches the glorious state of trans-sattva or moksha.

Therefore, stress is good for the tamasic as it gets him to work and do something in life. Stress is bad for the rajasic as it makes him ineffective and incapable of work. Stress is impossible for the sattvic as his mind is ever on noble ideals. Stress is a good servant, but bad master.

2 Responses to Can We Function Without Stress?

  1. Reymundo says:

    You actually make it seem relaly easy with your presentation however I to find this matter to be actually one thing which I feel I’d by no means understand. It kind of feels too complicated and extremely broad for me. I am taking a look ahead in your subsequent publish, I’ll attempt to get the hang of it!

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