The fourteenth chapter in the Bhagavad-Gita examines the three modes of material nature. The modes Sattva Guna, Rajas Guna and Tamas Guna, correspond exactly to the Three Alchemical Principles, Mercury, Sulphur and Salt. Sattva Guna is the Vedic term translated as 'Goodness' by Swami Prabhupada in his version, Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. Other translators of the Gita have used 'Intelligence, Substance and Luminous Material' for Sattva. These are descriptive of what all European and mid-eastern sages and seers through history have equated with their Mercury mode in metals.
Under SALT in this site, it is suggested that the Salt Principle is usually defined as the 'Substance or Body' quality of the One-Matter. So some confusion may surface with translating Sattva as 'Substance.' Substance, under Salt, does possess the intrinsic power of material embodiment. But all three, we must remember, are qualities or principles of just ONE THING. Under Sattva, Mercury, this ONE THING is also a substance, a luminous substance, a material exuding intelligence or sentience. It shimmers and glitters with an inner, luminous knowing, devoid any embodiment or animation. It represents the pure Knowledge aspect of the ONE. Rajas Guna and Tamas Guna, Alchemical Sulphur and Salt respectively, are both from Sattva Guna, Universal Mercury. Psychology would equate these three modes with the super-conscious, sub-conscious and self-conscious modes of consciousness. Mercury (Sattva) is the all pervading Super-conscious Self. Sulphur and Salt are the Self-conscious and Sub-conscious phases of expression within this same All-Consciousness. When a person is conditioned with the Sattva quality pervading, illumination is possible only if the individual is not caught up in the separative reflection of this mode. Says Swami Prabhupada in the sixth paragraph of the fourteenth chapter:
"O sinless one, the mode of goodness, being purer than the others, is illuminating, and it frees one from all sinful reactions. Those situated in that mode become conditioned by a sense of happiness and knowledge."1
Since the Sattva quality is in essence the same as Universal Mercury, one could not help lean toward the higher aspirations, thoughts, and actions which are influences of this mode. One major trap of Sattva in personalities not intent on the One Life, however, is intellectual servitude. It is the trap of being caught up in one's own pseudo sense of self importance and intelligence. Swami Prabhupada comments upon paragraph six in the Gita:
"Difficulty here is that when a living entity is situated in the mode of goodness he becomes conditioned to feel that he is advanced in knowledge, and because they generally improve their working conditions, they feel a sort of material happiness. This sense of advanced happiness in conditioned life makes them bound by the mode of goodness of material nature."2
The self reflection of the Sattva mode is explained further by the stalkers' system of classification, recorded in Carlos Castaneda’s Power of Silence:
"...and he continued explaining the stalkers' system of classification. He said that people in the first class are the perfect secretaries, assistants, companions. They have a very fluid personality, but their fluidity is not nourishing. They are, however, serviceable, concerned, totally domestic, resourceful within limits, humorous, well-mannered, sweet, delicate. In other words, they are the nicest people one could find, but they have one huge flaw: they can't function alone. They always need someone to direct them. With direction, no matter how strained or antagonistic that direction might be, they are stupendous. By themselves they perish."3
The Bhagavad-Gita instructs us to become as the Sattvic Human. Alchemists teach us to make Mercury of all our metals. 'Metals' are the force centers in the etheric bodies that affect human behavior through the corresponding responses of physical glands and organs. All the metals have the three qualities. If the Sulphur in some or all these metals tends toward the Salt quality (Tamas Guna), human behavior is more animalistic, base and crude. By the action of Sulphur (Rajas Guna), desire keeps us in the lower passions or steers us toward the Mercury (Sattvic) quality in those same centers. Desire is the foremost key. Our zealous aspirations direct us consciously toward studies, meditations and prayers which slowly melt the subconscious Salt-ish tendencies into dissolution. We in effect, alchemically speaking, 'wash our metals of Salt with Sulphur.' Through sulphurous, conscious intent, we can change our prior false knowledge about the world of substance and its meaning in our growth, and rid subconsciousness of the ignorant habit patterns which keep us in bondage to those same misconceptions. Shown here are some comparative classifications:
Gunas: Sattva, Rajas, Tamas
Modes: Mercury, Sulphur, salt
Stalker's Class: First, Second & Third Classes
Psychology: Super-cons, Self-cons, Sub-cons
Darkness in the deeper levels of the subconscious is conversely affected by Sattva, Universal Mercury, from super-conscious levels even deeper. This is explained elsewhere under RED WORK and OPERATION OF THE SUN AND MOON. It is from the upper, inner realms that the work began, and by which it will be completed. All we need do is keep the conscious, Rajas fires burning toward the goal of reunion, and we can not fail. The final completion, however, may be crowned only by the Loving Grace from the Almighty. Refer to GUNAS, MERCURY, SALT, SULPHUR, THREE PRINCIPLES, RAJAS GUNA and TAMAS GUNA in conjunction with the above.
1 Prabhupada, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, The Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. West Germany: Bhaktivendanta Book Trust, 1985 ed. pg. 686.
2 Ibid., pg. 687.
3 Castaneda, Carlos, The Power Of Silence. New York: Pocket Books, 1987, pg. 246