Rajas is second of the three modes in material nature. It is a Vedic term included in a work on alchemy because so many points in the eastern Yogic tradition agree exactly with western alchemy. The eastern modes of material nature are examined at length in the fourteenth chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita. In alchemical writings these modes are the three principles, Mercury, Sulphur and Salt. Swami Prabhupada's translation of the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is renders Rajas Guna as Passion. Rajas has also been translated as Force, Action or Desire by other authors. In the alchemical tradition these are all equivalent to Sulphur. In the Bhagavad-Gita Krishna tells Arjuna that when the eternal living entity comes in contact with nature, he becomes conditioned by these modes. Paragraph 7 of the Swami's translation reads:
"The mode of passion is born of unlimited desires and longings, O son of Kunti, and because of this the embodied living entity is bound to material fruitive actions."1
Again, the effect of Rajas through human personality is explained in paragraph 12:
"O chief of the Bharatas, when there is an increase in the mode of passion the symptoms of great attachment, fruitive activity, intense endeavor, and uncontrollable desire and hankering develop."2
Alchemical Sulphur (desire, passion) is always working through human personality. It is either working toward Alchemical Mercury or Alchemical Salt in the chakras. When desires turn toward bodily sensations (salt), they suppress the higher knowledge of the True Self. The senses can never be satisfied. Our five physical senses are awakened through seven major centers in the etheric aura alchemists call Metals. When the Sulphur in any or all these metals is directed toward the Salt (mode) qualities, there results an increase in all activities to appease desired sensations corresponding to that center. The true function of Alchemical Sulphur, Rajas, is to transmute the centers, and to pull super-conscious energy down into our self-conscious awareness. This eventually pulls us out of our self-reflection expressed as one of the three modes. In matters of personality the human race can actually be reduced into three major categories. The three gunas or alchemical principles are terms used in the East and West. The Yaqui Indians of Mexico have a Way of Return which also describes three categories under the Stalker's System of Classification. The second class is amazingly similar to all personalities described under the influence of Rajas or Sulphur. Carlos Castaneda describes this second class in The Power of Silence:
"People in the second class are not nice at all. They are petty, vindictive, envious, jealous, self-centered. They talk exclusively about themselves and usually demand that people conform to their standards. They always take the initiative even though they are not comfortable with it. They are thoroughly ill at ease in every situation and never relax. They are insecure and never pleased; the more insecure they become the nastier they are. Their fatal flaw is that they would kill to be leaders."3
These are some personality traits of individuals conditioned by Sulphur or Rajas. The following is a lengthy quotation continuing the dialogue between Carlos Castaneda and his teacher, Don Juan Matus. He describes the reflection of our personal sense of self-importance that creates these three modes:
"Don Juan said that he himself belonged to the second class. He then asked me to classify myself and I became rattled. Don Juan was practically on the ground, bent over with laughter. He urged me again to classify myself, and reluctantly I suggested I might be a combination of the three.
“Don't give me that combination nonsense,” he said, still laughing. “We are simple beings, each of us is one of the three types. And as far as I am concerned, you belong to the second class. Stalkers call them farts.”
"I began to protest that his scheme of classification was demeaning. But I stopped myself just as I was about to go into a long tirade. Instead I commented that if it were true that there are only three types of personalities, all of us are trapped in one of those three categories for life with no hope of change or redemption. He agreed that that was exactly the case. Except that one avenue for redemption remained. Sorcerers had long ago learned that only our personal self-reflection fell into one of the categories.
“The trouble with us is that we take ourselves seriously,” he said. "Whichever category our self-image falls into only matters because of our self-importance. If we weren't self-important, it wouldn't matter at all which category we fell into.
“I'll always be a fart,” he continued, his body shaking with laughter. “And so will you. But now I am a fart who doesn't take himself seriously, while you still do.”4
We must be predominantly one of the three (Mercury, Sulphur, or Salt). Since there are seven major assemblage points or Metals, each exuding one of the alchemical modes or 'classes' mentioned by Don Juan Matus, three of the seven, at least, must be leaning to one tendency predominantly. This is perhaps, when we read about all three classes or modes, why we see aspects of each in ourselves. Predominantly though, we are only one of them. By redirecting Rajas, desire, passion, force or Alchemical Sulphur, we destroy the sense of self-importance that creates these self-images. Rajas and Alchemical Sulphur are both equivalent to the second sphere on the Qabalistic Tree. Universal Sulphur is the Life-Force in all creation. In mankind, the micro-cosmos, Rajas or Sulphur is expressed through self-conscious awareness. It is the root desire that manifests in myriad ways. When desire is expressed downward and outward, into and through our senses, it can never be appeased. It is by surrendering the lower, self-conscious, separative personality (its reflection) that we may extract our feeling of being separate entities, cut off from the One-Life. This may be accomplished by consistently invoking the True Self as the real Actor and Doer of all we may think, desire, say, do and feel. In this manner do we turn the force of Rajas Guna toward Sattva Guna, Universal Mercury. Ultimately, by denying personal credit and guilt for all our activities, and by employing other alchemical procedures, we soon come not only to feel but to know a much higher Universal Self working in and through one of Its vehicles. We then become the Sattvic Human described in the Bhagavad-Gita. Such an one has no sense of self importance, never takes one's personal self seriously, and by so being, may become fully enlightened. Refer with GUNAS, TAMAS GUNA, SATTVA GUNA, MERCURY, SULPHUR and SALT.
1 Prabhupada, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, The Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. West Germany: Bhaktivendanta Book Trust, 1985 ed., pg. 688.
2 Ibid., pg. 692.
3 Casteneda, Carlos, The Power Of Silence. New York: Pocket Books, 1987, pg. 246.
4 Ibid., pg. 247.