Purity: THE ART OF REMOVING AND CREATING HABITS PART 7
Heartfulness eMagazine|July 2021
DAAJI continues his series on refining habits, in the light of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga and current scientific and yogic principles and practices. Last month, he explored the final Yama, the virtue of aparigraha, which means the removal of possessiveness, greed, and focus on material gain. This month he moves to the Niyamas – those positive habits that are worth cultivating in order to live a contented life, starting with the first Niyama of purity or shaucha.
DAAJI
Good and bad habits

By now, if you have been following this series and the practices that promote Yama, you may have already let go of many negative habits and tendencies, and cleared complexities from your system. Yama is the removal of all the “don’ts,” such as violence and dishonesty, and that is one aspect of working with habits. The other aspect is to cultivate the “dos,” the Niyamas, those positive habits that will take our lifestyle to another level.

The Niyamas help us to intensify life itself and radiate goodness and beauty into the world around us – the fragrance of purity, simplicity, compassion and universal love. The Niyamas fill our hearts with noble qualities. They help us to refine ourselves toward subtler and subtler states, both inner and outer. They lead to a lifestyle that is in tune with Nature, and thus they are regenerative. And that is exactly what humanity and our planet need right now.

In essence, Niyama is about cultivating positive habits so that both our minds and bodies are in sync with the highest universal principles. In Nature we see tremendous order, and the higher the goal the greater the order required.

What are those five positive habits that propel us forward?

Shaucha – purity of body and mind Santosh – contentment and inner happiness Tapas – penance or removal of impurities Swadhyaya – study of the self Ishwar pranidhan – surrender to God

Purity of body and mind

The first Niyama is shaucha, purity of body and mind, and it is a natural outcome of perfecting the Yamas. In fact, the Niyamas follow on naturally from the Yamas, as the removal of unwanted complexities and impurities leads to simplicity and purity. The instant you start thinking of any negative habit, like an angry reaction or hurting another person, you move to impurity; the instant you start thinking of coveting someone or something, you move to impurity.

Many people today have a negative reaction to the idea of purity, probably due to its association with puritanism linked with rigidity, or perhaps because of other religious overtones, but in Yoga purity is not a moral concept, it is a science. It is the science of maintaining both the body and the mind in pristine condition, as you would do with your clothes, your car, and your home. We like our homes to be clean, just as we like to drink clean water and breathe clean air. We want purity in the outer environment, and yet we often allow garbage to accumulate in our inner environment. We happily accept the need to wash our hands or take a shower after returning home under the current Covid-19 pandemic. Leaving our shoes at the doorstep is another visionary move of the elders in India, as is not allowing sick people or strangers into our kitchens. Of course, it can go too far; even when another person is healthy, some orthodox religious people do not allow them to touch food if they are of a lower status.

To my heart, purity is the essence of inner transformation. My own teacher, Babuji, gave a very important message in 1982, toward the end of his life, and in it he said that purity weaves our destiny with the Ultimate. That is a very profound statement, and highlights the importance of purity.

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