Last week I talked about Purification in the Smart Life, see link to that piece here – https://www.solsenseyoga.com/2015/11/11/purification-in-the-smart-life/
This week I’m diving a little more deeply into exactly what we are purifying and why, what that looks like, and how we get there.
Sri Swami Satchidananda in the Bhagavad Gita says we practice yoga and meditation for self-purification. Our pranayama practice (mindful breathing) he says, “cleanses the body, alerts the mind, and drives away dullness.” Satchidananda continues with this discourse, “The main purpose of meditation is this purification. You get rid of all the wild thoughts by filling the mind with one chosen, beautiful thought [emphasis added]. That’s why it’s called self-purification.”
So living the pure life is essentially getting out of the way of our small self and tapping into the power of our best and highest Self (thus designated with a capital “S”). And we do this by focusing on one chosen, and beautiful thought, in each moment of our lives. This is no small task and takes a lot of hard work. How do we get there?
There are many plans out there that promise perfection or close to it, but we really just need some main ingredients and then the inspiration to make our own plan prosper in ways that fits our lifestyle. Here are the main ingredients that foster the purification of our koshas (energetic layers – recall in last week’s piece the mind-body-spirit triune with a couple more specific layers added), this is the foundation – movement (in the form of any type of exercise we will commit to on a regular basis), meditation/mindful breathing/contemplative prayer, whole foods based diet with plenty of liquids that hydrate, and rest. These ingredients are necessary to have what I call the purity experience. In the purity experience, we experience life with immense clarity, focus, and groundedness. The static and muddy build up within our energetic layers lessens and we are better able to navigate our world with purpose.
When these foundational ingredients are met on a daily basis, we are equipped to develop the subset of ingredients that work not only at clearing the static and mud from our energetic layers, but work at integrating them all into a whole and holistic experience. The subset ingredients are creativity, social connections, and service. Creativity can be anything from art, writing, including technical writing, gardening, cooking, etc. – whatever form of work where you get your creative juices flowing is it – whether it’s a hobby or paid work or both.
Then there are social connections. Social connections are our friendships, colleagues, and family life. To prosper in this area, we must have a strong foundation (main ingredients) as discussed above. Otherwise, we will likely be rocking in the hazy minutia of things that have us spinning in destructive circles unable to see where we are coming from, which is why the main ingredients are key to building healthy and lasting social connections. And, of course service is the work we do that fosters the evolution of our greater humanity, whether it’s volunteer work, making a dish for a friend needing their own energetic uplift, or contributing in some way to the greater good of our environment.
These subsets are what I call purity expression. When we are static-free and mud free energetically in experience then we will bring this more attuned state as the necessary fuel to ignite the state of purity expression and those things we do from that will naturally integrate into our being, our whole being – bringing purity experience and purity expression in ultimate connection. That state of purity, of static-free being is ultimate bliss. Let’s be clear though that bliss is not perfection. When we’ve reached this life stage, we have reached the anandamaya kosha– the ultimate bliss state where we are not only grounded, but connected and in the ultimate flow of life. It’s the integration of all of our energetic layers without the static and mud.
Though in the world we live, there are two sides to everything. This is how we know what we know – good vs. evil, happy vs. sad, energetic vs. tired, love vs. hate, we must have a relative point of reference to know, for without knowing one, we don’t know the other. So even if we’ve reached our anandamaya kosha (our ultimate bliss layer), we will still cycle back around to more static and make the adventure again purifying the layers (yep travelling through all 5 layers again and again), but our awareness, clarity, and focus will be more clear each time. Our mind and spirit lens gets a little cleaner each time we make the energetic purification adventure. We can’t reach the ultimate energetic bliss layer without the static and the mud. It’s not a question of being in one or the other.
My Guru’s spiritual teacher, Lee Lazowick calls this “Enlightened Duality”. We have two opposing forces that when they come together make the whole. Purity experience and purity expression help us navigate with immense love and compassion the paradoxical world in which we live and it catches like a sharp and determined hook the hazy minutia that has us running in destructive loops.
And, let’s remember too that ultimate bliss and a state of oneness isn’t what we are meant to experience in this life. Lee Lazowick’s teacher, Yogi Ramsuratkumar, said that if we sought after a state of complete oneness with the Divine while on this earthly plane, we would be a bench yogi for the rest of our lives, unable to enjoy this lifetime because we would be stuck on the bench unable to think, speak or act due to our blissed out oneness. Enlightened duality is all about enjoying this life in this lifetime, not reaching some perfected state of purity after going through so many rounds of the koshas and unable to enjoy the treasures in each moment.
So get busy with using your foundational and subset ingredients. Create your own amazing purification recipe plan that fits your lifestyle and have fun cleaning the mud away and enjoy clearing out the static, but let’s not confuse purified static inspired bliss with plastic bliss. That’s not enlightened duality at all.
A Buddhist monk friend shared this Zen story with me. A student wanted to find the peace in his soul. He saw a Zen teacher and told the teacher what he was seeking. The Zen master was silent for a moment, gave him a dirty glass of water and told the student, “You can use this.” The student didn’t drink the water. Time by time they sat in calmness together. Suddenly the master looked at the dirty glass of water again and said, “You can use it.” The student said, “Yes.” The teacher responded, “It is what you want to find.”
Enjoy the mudslide and have fun on the purity adventure!
Om Shanti Om ~ Athea