The 3 Primal Forces

In the yogic tradition there are three primal forces or qualities that exist throughout all of nature and the universe.

In this podcast Travis breaks down these forces and provides powerful insights to better understand yourself and the world around you.

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[The following is the full transcript of this episode of “The BE ULTIMATE Podcast.” Please note that this is direct from Travis speaking unscripted and unedited.]

Welcome and thank you for tuning in to Episode number 31, “The Three Primal Forces.”

According to ancient yogic wisdom, there are three primal forces or qualities that exist throughout all of nature and through all things within the entire manifested universe. 

In yoga, these three forces are called the Gunas. And the word Guna translates into subtle quality. These Gunas represent certain archetypes within both our mind, our consciousness, and again in all things in the material world. Because these Gunas are present in all things, we can also see them in people, places, food, entertainment. If it exists, these three Gunas are part of that existence. 

When I learned about the Gunas, it really provided me a lens for me to better understand myself, to better understand my mind. And it also provided this powerful framework for me to kind of understand what was going on around me with greater clarity. So you can really apply these three Gunas in this ancient yoga philosophy to just normal things and daily living.

We’re going to unpack that, we’ll dive into it, and hopefully there’ll be a ton of takeaways.

The three Gunas are Tamas, Rajas, and Sattva. 


First, let’s talk about Tamas. Tamas is that first guna. Tamas represents this energy of inertia, stagnation, lack of movement, dullness, darkness, heaviness. And when we see Tamas show up within the human mind, it leads to ignorance. So when someone’s real ignorant or stuck within their perspective in the way that they see things, it’s because of this quality of Tamas. 

So it stifles change. It stifles the ability to see things from different perspectives, and different points of view, and we probably know people like this in our life. They see things very rigidly just one way. And, stereotypically, there’s certain places in the world and the country– they – how do you say this politically correct? – they like what they like. Right? And they’re not open to other views. And they stay in their town or their city. They don’t really venture very far and because of that they’re kind of living in a box.

So the classic Tamasic person is a couch potato. Somebody who’s hanging around on the couch, eating Doritos, watching TV, ordering pizza, drinking beer, and they don’t get up from the couch for hours and hours and hours. That is because of this quality of Tamas.

And then when we look at food, food that is Tamasic is going to be food that is stale, heavy, processed, loaded with preservatives, devoid of nutrients. This is all Tamasic food. So when you eat Tamasic food, it leaves you feeling Tamasic. You feel heavy. You feel like you have no energy. You feel a complete utter lack of motivation. 

As far as a Tamasic place goes, any place that is an extreme hot or cold environment is going to trigger Tamasic energy. Like if you go to the desert in the middle of summer and it’s super, super hot, you just feel so incredibly heavy. Same thing if you go somewhere very, very cold, you also are going to feel heavy as well. Any city or place that has a high amount of pollution, a lack of good quality air is also going to be Tamasic.

I think about my work in the prisons. You pull up to the prison and you can already feel this heavy energy. It’s like a dark cloud. And you go inside and that Tamasic energy gets even more thick. And as we’ve talked about in some of the other podcasts here on BE ULTIMATE, everything emits an electromagnetic signature. There are waves of electricity and magnetic energy and we see that reflected within these Gunas as well. 

You go inside the prison and you can feel that energy. You can feel that heavy vibe. And part of my job when I go into these prisons is to bring a different type of energy, to bring a light to the darkness. And it’s my pleasure, my honor to get to do that. Again, we reference small towns. Not all small towns are bad, I’m not saying that. But some small towns that are just stuck in their ways are going to have more of a Tamasic energy.

Somebody from the outside comes into the town and sometimes there’s resistance and judgment and criticism, and that’s Tamasic energy.

Any city or neighborhood in a city where there’s a high amount of alcoholism or drug use. You’ve probably been to these places and you can feel those heavy vibes where there’s a lot of poverty, a lot of depression.


The second guna is Rajas. Rajas is the energy of change, motion, activity, transformation, growth. And these probably are inspiring things to hear. Right? We all want energy. We all want transformation. We all want to grow. Not a bad thing. 

But when Rajas gets out of balance or it becomes excessive in the mind, then it leads to a mind that just desires and desires and wants more and more and more. And you want to be the best and you’re always comparing and competing, and you have all this drive but it’s just out of balance. It’s all coming from the ego. 

So you’re overly competitive. You’re ego-centered. You’re stuck in the small self instead of being in the big self. And very often, people that are Rajasic within their minds, they will sacrifice their values, their integrity, their morals just to get to the top. They don’t care. “Just get me to the top. I want to achieve my goals, and I don’t care how it gets done just as long as that gets done.” And that’s that Rajasic energy. It’s like a bull charging itself through a China shop.

People that are more Rajasic in nature, which is pretty common and pretty dominant, in fact out of all the three Gunas this is probably what we see the most. These are your Type A personalities. And all you people out there listening, Type A personalities, you know I’m talking to you and I can identify with you too. 

I have a tendency to fall into this category of Rajas. But knowing this information, as I said in the beginning of the podcast, as you will see in the last third guna, I know what to do in order to balance myself out when I get overly Rajasic. And I would love for you to be able to balance yourself out energetically as well. 

The Rajasic people, they love spicy food. They love stimulating food. They love food that is salty. They love beverages that are caffeinated and have a lot of sugar. Right? Because sugar is very stimulating. 

They’re the kind of people that love Mexican food. And you go out and you have Mexican food and it’s salty and it’s spicy and it’s yummy. And then you’re drinking margaritas, and the margaritas has salt around the rim. And the alcohol is also Rajasic in the beginning. And you like what you like. If you’re a Rajasic person, you love to intake things that are Rajasic. But when you ingest too much of this, then it can make your Rajas energy go completely out of balance.

Places that are Rajasic are going to be places where there’s a lot of activity. And just like the food, there’s a lot of stimulation. 

So, for example, Las Vegas. You go to Las Vegas. I’ve been there once, really, and that was enough. It was just so much stimulation. They don’t call it the adult Disney World for nothing. You have lights everywhere. You have entertainment everywhere. You have just tons and tons of stimulation everywhere you go. And people that are Rajasic, they love to go to Las Vegas. 

Times Square, New York City. Right? Lot of lights. A lot of movement. A lot of people. A lot of energy. A lot of activity. A lot of billboards. A lot of stuff to do. 

These are very Rajasic environments. And basically any city in Asia is also very Rajasic. Tons of people. Tons of traffic. Tons of motion happening. 

You go to India and it’s just off the charts. Not only do you have people in cars everywhere but you have animals. You have cows and dogs and oxen and you name it. It’s just completely Rajasic.

And then, lastly, I’m going to mellow out now as I think about this last one. Just talking about Rajas got me a little Rajasic. 


This last guna is called Sattva. In Sattva, ultimately, is what we want to strive for. It’s the direction that we want to move into. 

Sattva represents this energy of balance, of harmony, stability, clarity, joy, gratitude, appreciation. Being awakened. And this is what being a yogi is all about. And it’s really embodying all these qualities. Right? 

So a person that is Sattvic in nature is a spiritual leader. They are an example to their communities because they embody this energy of Sattva. They cast out through their electromagnetic signature, this vibration of peace. 

People that spend a lot of time in nature often can be very Sattvic because nature is a Sattvic place. 

Food. Food that’s fresh and natural that has a lot of prana, a lot of energy, a lot of life force in it is Sattvic food. Nuts, seeds, plant-based foods naturally have a lot of energy. So the idea is is that we want to move in this direction of eating more and more sort Sattvic foods because this is going to make us feel more Sattvic.

And then places that are Sattvic are going to be places that are just beautiful. Beautiful, stunning locales. Places in nature. The ocean. A tropical island. Mountains. Rivers. Lakes. Waterfalls. Temples. Churches. 

Holy sites, not all of them, but many of them have this Sattvic energy. You go into the temple or you go into the place of worship and it changes your state. It has an effect on you. Pilgrimage sites all around the world where people go to pray or chant or to honor the divine often carry this sort big energy as well.

I think about this place that I visited in India called Varanasi. Varanasi is one of the oldest living cities on the planet, and it’s chaos. It’s just crazy. It’s famous for the ghats and the burning ghats. So in that tradition, a lot of people believe that if you’re cremated in Varanasi, then you go straight to heaven. So people die and they go to have the body be burned there right next to the sacred Ganges River. And when you go and visit you see this. It’s all out in the open. The death. The body being washed in the river, then being placed on top of this stack of wood. And then the body being set and lit on fire. And it’s all out in the open. And this has been going on for literally hundreds and thousands of years. And soon as one body’s done, they bring in the next body. The next family comes in and it just has continued over and over like this. 

But right outside of Varanasi is a town called Sarnath. And Sarnath is famous because it’s the very first place that the Buddha gave a teaching after becoming enlightened and awakened. And it’s not far outside of Varanasi. You drive 30 minutes, I believe, And you get there. And as soon as you go into this town of Sarnath where the Buddha gave these teachings, you can feel the energy go from Rajas to Sattva. And this is an example of how the energy can just change in an instant. I just felt so at peace, so calm. I felt like I could just stay there forever. 

Whereas in Varanasi, you’re kind of like in stress mode. Fight or flight the whole entire time. So that’s an example of some of the Sattvic places.

So the idea is is that if we want to strive for true health and well-being, then we want to maintain a Sattvic lifestyle. And when we’re not experiencing health and well-being, it’s impeded by the Tamas and the Rajas. So the goal is to start making decisions and choices that are aligned with the guna or the force of Sattva. 

Where are you going? What places are you spending time in? What kind of people are you hanging around with predominantly? What kind of music are you listening to? 

Some music is very Rajasic, and some music is very Tamasic, and some music is very Sattvic. 

What kind of foods, again, are you eating? 

And I just want you to think about this as you progress to the rest of your day, the rest of your week, the rest of your life, and really try and make more and more well-informed decisions that are going to help grow and feed and amplify your Sattvic nature. And you’ll see the effects of this instantly. 

You’ll just feel the Sattvic energy. You’ll feel more balanced. You’ll feel more clear. You’ll feel more harmonious. You’ll feel less stress, less manic, less chaotic, less heavy. You’ll have sustained energy but energy in a balanced way. And this is really the goal.

A lot of people in our culture that’s so fast and so rapid, they fall into this horrible cycle and loop of the Tamas and Rajas. They go to work all-day and they’re working, they’re working, they’re grinding. They’re striving. That’s all Rajas energy. Go, go, go, go, go. And then they go out at night. And they go out and they have drinks and they stay up late. That’s more Rajasic energy. Just go, go, go. Maybe they go dancing. They go to the nightclub. 

I’m not saying this is completely bad all the time. But if you’re doing this frequently, then you’re in that trap. Because you know the next day you wake up, you don’t feel good. You feel Tamasic energy. You feel the Tamas. You’re tired. You’re dull. You don’t want to get out of bed. You feel unmotivated. You’re not doing the things in life that you want to be doing. 

So you wake up, and the first thing you do is you go get a caffeinated beverage. And you slog back that beverage, and you put sugar in it and you get hyped up. You get jacked up. And then you go out to your day. And then what happens later – probably three, four hours later – you crash. You crash. And as you crash, you say, “You know what? I need more of the caffeine. I need more sugar. I need more stimulation.” And you’re just on this roller coaster that’s exhausting. And it’s depleting, and it’s depleting your very life energetic reserves. 

So my proposition is, why not get off the roller coaster? Why not get out of this bad loop and pattern of just Tamas and Rajas? You can step out. It’s all about the decisions and the choices that you make. And you make those choices that are going to bring you back to more and more of that Sattvic nature.

Now, I presented the framework of the Gunas, especially Tamas and Rajas, kind of in a negative way. But also want to look at it that there are positives to Tamas, Rajas, and Sattva. 

For example, when you go to bed at night, you want to feel Tamasic. Right? You want to feel heavy. You want to feel like you’re getting tired. You want to go to bed. If you’re amped up and it’s 10 o’clock at night, your circadian rhythms are off. Your cycles are off. That’s not a good thing. You want to feel like you’re settling and winding down, so that then you go to sleep and you have a really nourishing, deep, restful night’s sleep, and then you wake up in the morning. and you should be waking up in the morning ready to go without caffeine. Having natural energy like you’re ready to go and that’s that good quality of Rajas of energy, and motivation, growth, and awakening. And then you just sustain that throughout your whole entire day. You sustain that good balance Sattvic energy.

All right, you guys. So that’s it for this one. 

Let’s wrap it up with The Ultimate prayer. 

“May we bring strength where there is weakness. 

May we bring courage where there is fear. 

May we bring compassion where there is suffering. 

And may we bring light where there is darkness. 

May we be ultimate!”