The universe is formed of a mixture of three basic qualities or gunas, as they are called in Sanskrit: sattwa guna, the elevating or spiritualizing; raja guna, the activating, and tamo guna, the darkening. The gunas are universal. They have existed from the beginning of creation and pervade every aspect of Nature. Every human characteristic expresses one or more of these qualities.
Like, as is well known, attracts like. Whenever we express sattwa guna, for example, as kindness to others, we attune ourselves to the universal quality of kindness, and are sustained and reinforced by it in return. Similar, if we express tamo guna by cruel actions, we attune ourselves to the universal quality of cruelty. That conscious aspect of Nature strengthens our own cruelty, and makes it the more difficult for us to escape evil’s clutches, should we desire at last to reform.
These universal, conscious qualities in Nature also express themselves through the power of habit. Every action, if repeated often enough, becomes a habit. Habits attract to themselves those gunas, or qualities, with which they are in sympathy and are strengthened by them.
Good habits are generated not only by personal effort, but also by prayer and inner communion, which unite us to the greater power of God. By right effort, we open the door to the inflow of grace. Right effort means to focus our minds in deep concentration on God, to offer Him our unconditional devotion, to have complete faith in His unconditional love for us. It means to open ourselves to Him on every level of our being.
Right effort must not be confused with the ego-conditioned thought, “The more I do, the more I’ll accomplish.” Rather, it might be summarized as relinquishing the thought of self as the creator, and developing the awareness that the Doer is God.
The Lord’s power alone can liberate us from human limitations. He alone can expand our infinitesimal consciousness into vast reaches of infinite bliss.