For the month of December, we have been contemplating the first niyama - Saucha which can be translated as purity, simplicity, refinement. We can begin our practice of Saucha in the body, looking at what we consume and how we take care of our body - aiming towards more often choosing purity of food and drink and maintaining practices that help us detoxify our body. We can examine our thoughts and notice how the quality of our thoughts effect us. Do we tend to go to negative thoughts? Do we consume tv shows, magazines, websites, etc. that water our negative seeds, like anger, fear, worry, guilt, shame? or can we choose to take in things that inspire us and make us feel the deep joy and love that is our true nature? Thich Nhat Hanh's translation of the fifth precept as the Fifth Mindfulness Training in the Plum Village tradition brings us back to these deep practices of Saucha - Purity, Refinement, Simplicity. We can use this training as a north star to guide us on the path. We know we are not perfect and we don't need to practice with guilt or shame. We do the best we can and try to learn along the way.
Nourishment and Healing
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth.
In the season of Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanzaa, we see the element of light in each tradition reminding us of our purity, of the divine spirit in each one of us. We can use these reminders of the candles, the holiday lights, the prayers, to go deep inside to the witness consciousness, the wisdom, the sense of expansiveness and interbeing that brings us great peace. Taking the time for contemplation and rest to go into our bodies, breath, and mind, to find the light within, to see first what obscures that light and open to find a path, ask for a path to clarity. Then bask in that light, however small. Breathe into it. Fan the flames. Let it grow. And, let it shine. Be the light, the love, the spirit you want to see in the world. And, make it a practice to see the light in the other before you speak, before you act, before you make assumptions about them. The more often we come back to our center, to our light, to what is pure in us, the stronger that energy or groove becomes and the easier it will be to witness our life from that place, to navigate our life from that place. May we remember this, may we steadfastly do our practices to strengthen this, may we support each other with loving kindness on this journey.
Asatoma Sat Gamaya
Lead me from untruth to truth
Tamasoma Jyotir Gamaya
Lead me from darkness to the light
Mrityorma Amritam Gamaya
Lead me from the fear of death to the wisdom of immortality,
from attachment to what is temporary to the wisdom of what is eternal
Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Blessings of Peace, Love, and Ease of Living to you and your beloveds and to all beings!