Writings

Cleanliness is next to godliness...?


I was reading today about cleanliness and it's importance on the yogic path and I laughed out loud to myself. If that was the case then I would be a very poor yogi indeed...
Think about that statement for a moment, if that were a quality vital to your yogic path then that would imply that The Buddha had access to a daily shower and that Jesus walked the desert with wet wipes.
There are all kinds of benefits with being of sound hygiene but vital to the yogic path...?
Today we are fed so many rules and musts from those selling yoga to the people, smiling happy looking faces and bodies that portray only a fragment of the reality behind the scenes. Photoshopping the most important part that we all go through, the pain and confusion where we feel most lonely, confused and unworthy. It frankly pisses me off a bit, it's just marketing and another way to sell conformity. If we so disliked the rules and regulations we found in other religions, systems and cultures what makes us think that all the directives found in yoga are any different? Yoga is so much more than that. It is a teaching of deep intelligence and it's practices more than just a cocktail of health promoting disciplines. Some of it's ancient recipes will always be valid but some were created to accommodate the teachings in a different circumstance, in another time, working with another cultural brew, for motifs that were simply practical at that point in time.
Once again, I understand that these tips and tricks of the yoga trade that appear, are all health promoting tips, and that a body that is clean from the inside out will be healthier, but when that cleanliness becomes a directive, it inevitably invites guilt and shame, which is not necessarily less unhealthy. I have met many neurotic yogis who when trying to live up to all these guidelines in my eyes don't differ much from the anorexics I hung out with and was part of in the world of professional dancing.
I get it, it would be so easy if there was a recipe we could follow in order to attain that state of knowing and unconditional compassion, but it all boils down to sustained awareness, honesty, equanimity and compassion. No diet or routine in the world can substitute that.


The Dalai Lama was once asked by one of his students: "What is the most important meditation we can do now?" He without hesitation answered: "Critical thinking followed by action. Discern what your world is, know the plot, the scenario of this human drama and then figure out where your talents might fit in to make a better world".

A very wise and upgraded version of the old recipe, as it should be. In a world that is always changing and evolving, it seems logical to let go of any kind of rigidity and nostalgia of the olden ways. Let's not get stuck in thinking that we will be deprived of the heavenly realms or the ultimate knowing because we're not following all the guidelines, didn't we already hear that somewhere before...?

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