|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 337 ]
The yogis do not necessarily consider that the external cleansing of the body is really cleansing. For instance, if you are clean on the inside, even if your external body is covered in dirt, then you are still clean. However, if you are dirty inside, then no amount of external washing and scrubbing will render you clean. Sage Vyasa points out that:
"These are external. The inner cleansing represents the cleansing of the miseries of the restless mind."
So sauca (cleansing) implies, beyond the shat karmas and other physical practices for bodily cleansing, all of the activities performed for the purification of the emotional/psychic nature. This involves the elimination of negative thoughts and ideas.
"The mind verily is the world. One should purify it strenuously. One assumes the form of that which is in one's mind. This is the eternal secret."
~ MAITRI UPANISHAD
The purification of the mind has an extraordinary importance in yoga and in the elevation of the being. More important than the physical cleaning of the body is the cleaning of the mind of all disturbing thoughts and emotions, such as hate, greed, passion, deceit, and pride. These impurities of the mind are removed fastest by love and devotion, or bhakti yoga.
Even more important than this is the cleansing of the intellect, or buddhi, of impure thoughts. Having a pure mind is of utmost importance for spiritual elevation. The pure and lucid mind focuses very easily, and it is through concentration that mastery of the senses occurs. In this focused state, the yogi enters easily into the temple of his/her own body and observes his/her own Self clearly and objectively.
This inner cleansing brings joy and bestows to the being a pleasant and bright glow. It brings goodwill and relieves worry, frustration and inner tension. When a being is in this benevolent state, they automatically recognise the negative qualities of others and have the strength and grace to ignore and forgive their defects...
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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