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शौच Saucha

Posted by Julie Andres on Thursday, May 19, 2011 Under: niyamas

One of twenty-five blueberry bushes, recently planted.


Recently my friend Sue and I attended a local Earth Day celebration at the beach in Roberts Creek. It was a wonderful gathering of community-minded souls who displayed everything from tender lettuce seedlings to draft copies of the latest revision of the Official Community Plan.
An all-female marimba band (the Knotty Daughters) played heart-lifting music while children danced, dogs wagged, and the breeze lifted kites into the clear blue sky. We found a vendor who offered black bean soup with wild greens and homemade breadsticks. It was not only delicious, it was clearly highly nourishing in a way that most of the food we consume is not. The cook even gave us bowls and spoons that we returned to a tub that she took home for washing. No disposables – Sue and I both liked that a lot.
That's part of the story. Another part took place almost two weeks later.
But first back to Earth Day. After lunch I visited a table where the Roberts Creek Community Association was recruiting volunteer roadside cleaning personnel. A garbage bag and a sticker for pickup by the regional disposal service were exchanged for commitments to removing refuse from specific routes, systematically selected from the area street map on display. I chose my street. (Should be fairly easy, I thought. I hadn't noticed too much stuff on the roads on my walks.)
A fortnight later, when the weather was reasonably dry, my 10-year-old grandson and I headed off to do the work. It was a real eye-opener. We filled not one, but two garbage bags. The main contents: coffee cups and lids, beer cans, fast food containers, chip bags and candy wrappers, cigarillo tips, and cigarette butts. There were other things as well (an Ikea-type shelf, paper and plastic bags, a windshield wiper) but 90 percent was related to junk food, alcohol and nicotine.
No wonder, I said to my grandson, who became quite tired after two-and-a-half hours of climbing up and down the ditch banks. No wonder this stuff has been left on the roadside; the people who do it don't care about their own bodies, let alone the rest of the world. It's a clear case of garbage in, garbage out.
The first niyama, saucha, is commonly translated as internal and external purity. External purity, bahir saucha, means keeping the body clean. Water is the primary substance that provides us with the ability to maintain external cleanliness. Internal cleanliness, antah saucha, is built on developing an inner purity, which includes truthfulness. Many of us, once committed to the practice of saucha, begin the process of purification through attention to our diets. When we care about our own bodies and our health, and the bodies and health of those around us, we treat the earth well as a result.
These things are a choice. Changing habits is possible, no matter what. Patience, awareness, discipline … eliminating one thing at a time that doesn't serve ourselves or the planet in a positive manner … that's how we make a difference.
While I was surprised at the quantity of trash littering our roadway, I wasn't surprised at what it consisted of. I would have been surprised if we'd found glass jars that had contained raw food smoothies or the packages of sprouted flax seed crackers. I would have been surprised if we found cloth bags with vegetable and fruit trimmings or organic whole grain cereal boxes. My guess is that those packages and boxes are somewhere in the recycling system instead.

In : niyamas 


Tags: saucha  purification  habits  niyamas 



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