(Understanding this can be a great help on the spiritual journey, my comments are in red)
Question. What is the difference between the Sattvic, the Rajasic and the Tamasic ways of worship?
The man who worships from the very depth of his heart without the least ostentation or vanity is a Sattvic worshipper.
Tom: the sattvic (peaceful) worshiper is the highest form of worshiper, pure of heart and of intent. They do not make a great grand show of their spirituality and care not for outer forms, unlike the rajasic one:
The man who gives much attention to decorating his house, makes much fuss about music and dancing, and makes all costly and elaborate arrangements for a rich feast when celebrating the worship of the Deity, is a Rajasic worshipper.
Tom: the rajasic (passionate) worshipper tends to be concerned more about appearances, pleasure and activity. They may pay great attention to decoration, dress, ceremony, outward appearance and what others think of them. They may tend to wear spiritual-looking clothes and have spiritual-looking paraphenalia and accesories and make a show of spiritual-looking rituals. They may look and sound more spiritual than they actually are. Still lower than them is the tamasic one:
The man who immolates hundreds of innocent goats and sheep on the altar, has dishes of meat and wine for offerings, and is absorbed only in dancing and singing while conducting worship, is a Tamasic worshipper.
Tom: The tamasic (dull) one here is essentially shows to be a hedonist, one who is interested in sense-pleasures and, for this end, they are willing to abuse their own body (eg. with excessive food and wine) and engage in immoral activity (eg. the unnecessary slaughtering of animals) in order to satisfy their wants and apetites.
~ Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna no. 239
Tom: whilst the above may perhaps sound judgemental, I think it is better not to think of it in this way: we can instead see them as descriptions of stages of spiritual growth that many of us often go though, and each stage often has a role to play:
eg. in the tamasic stage, we are often dealing with supressed emotional pain and trauma, in the rajasic stage we are often developing self-esteem and self-worth, and in the sattvic stage we are learning to be more peaceful and pure, perhaps having already healed ourself of many of our psychological traumas and developed a healthy sense of self-esteem.
We can also use this as a way to guage where spiritual teachers/groups/teachings themselves are – are they sharing a tamasic, rajasic or sattvic type of spirituality?
These 3 (sattva, rajas and sattva) are known as the 3 energies of Maya or the 3 gunas.
Have you found this teaching to be helpful for you? Please leave a comment to let me know…