On Purity

On Purity

I’ve spoken before in various ways about the gunas, such as the gunas in awakening. The gunas are qualities of nature. They are not actions or objects but rather subtle qualities that give those things characteristics and effects. Sattva, which is often translated as purity or clarity is one of them, key to spiritual progress.

Many people however apply the principle in a much more superficial way. For example, we can seek to eat a “pure” diet by being vegetarian or vegan or some special program. But then beat ourselves up for straying from the diet, even if our body is calling for it.

Yet if we take a rigid, fundamentalist approach to a “pure” diet, we may actually be energetically culturing tamas, inertia. Not purity. The foods may incline us to a cleaner body but the approach will ensure otherwise. And if the diet is unsuitable, it may lead to a slow deterioration of health.

While there is certainly value in eating a sensible diet that favours whole, grown foods, the purity part is more in what we bring to it. The gunas are not physical characteristics but qualities of the energy behind that.

Much more sensible is to favour a reasonable diet, pay attention to what the body wants (other than sugar), and build in variety and flexibility.

The purity of sattva does not come from a special diet or managing thoughts and emotions. All of these are effects. Real purity comes from who we are. And that influences how we are with ourselves and the world.

The greatest purifiers are transcendence, love and bliss. None of these are individual or something we do. They come from what we are. That is something we can culture but not by mood or belief. This is the value of spiritual practice. And a marker for what true spiritual practice is. Does it bring clarity deep within? (assuming that we’re getting enough rest)

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