Sunday, May 31, 2009
One of the principles outlined in the Yoga Sutras is Soucha or cleanliness. To be clean in body, heart, and thought is one of the steps to achieve the realization of our true majesty. I think this is a valuable principle as we come to understand and appreciate our own majesty, our True Nature. Recently a friend told me a story which happens to perfectly illustrate this point.
My friend was traveling in India one summer. He was riding in a van when the chaotic traffic became a complete stand-still in the oppressive afternoon heat. Stuck, my friend began looking around. He happened to notice a boy, 13 or 14 years old, standing inconspicuously at the side of the road. The boy’s only clothing was a pair of bright purple shorts. He held a blue, plastic pail and a white bar of soap, probably his only possessions. While my friend was stopped in traffic, 20 minutes or more, he was mesmerized by the scene of this boy, who with careful-precision began washing himself with the water in his pail and the soap. The boy washed each body part slowly and methodically, ennobling himself in his private ritual of personal care, too poor for privacy and therefore in plain-view to any of the thousands of people in this crowded place. The rest of the world didn’t seem to matter or even exist as he honored himself by washing. After several minutes he carefully dumped out his water, placed the soap in his pail and walked away. As he walked away, he held his head high-proud. Proud because even though he owned next to nothing, he knew who he was behind the dirt, and that day this noble person would be clean.
How do we honor ourselves and our space by practicing cleanliness?