Yesterday I wrote about people’s experiences here in India and about how they experience dirt or cleanliness in very different ways. I have heard some people say ‘It is dirty of course, there is a lot of poverty!’ Actually this is not really the reason. At least here in Vrindavan it is not like this. We are surrounded by a river on three sides and generally don’t have any water problems unlike other areas of India. So poverty cannot be the reason for being dirty. And I said yesterday already that I know many people who are poor but who value cleanliness very much. It has really nothing to do with wealth.
When we went into one of our children’s homes last year, we saw how clean they keep these two small rooms in which seven people live together. It was so clean you could eat off the floor. And actually they do not have a dining table so they literally eat off the floor.
On the other hand there are many people, especially those who have a lot of things accumulated over the years, whose houses are so disorganized and dirty that you wonder if they cannot afford soap or a broom although they could even pay someone to come daily for cleaning! Cleanliness doesn’t come by birth, it doesn’t come by money. It is your attitude and habit. Keep your home clean and it will be easy for you to keep yourself clean.
Yesterday I wrote that rules can become empty if you forget the sense why they were created. I was asked to give some examples which kind of rules that could be. Here in India people said that you should get up before sunrise and do the sun salutation, a series of yoga exercises, in the morning. There are many benefits to it. You have exercise and you can nearly feel the oxygen with which you fill your body in the morning and prepare yourself for the day. After a few rounds of sun salutation you are full of energy.
So this is really great for everyone to do it but religion made a rule of it and people had in mind ‘The priest said I have to do the sun salutation’ instead of ‘I feel that the sun salutation is good for me, just like the priest said!’
The same thing happened with Pranayama, the breathing exercises. It is obviously a great thing to do, for your lungs, for your blood pressure and your respiratory system. One of the exercises, Kapalabhati, is also good when you have diabetes. But when religion said you had to do this, there were people who said, just for wanting to be free, that they would not do it. They forgot how good it is for you.
In the case of meditation, doing it has become a sign of being spiritual or religious. Meditation is good for everybody¸ for concentration and focusing and also for relaxing the mind. However if you do it each morning because your religion tells you to, it becomes a ritual, but one that you do as a duty. And such a ritual often becomes a habit. Then its benefit is gone.
This is what I meant when I said that people forget the sense of rules. If you understand why a rule was created, it will not be a rule for you anymore. You don’t do it because you have to but because it makes sense.
We came back from Darshan. In Darshan I have told one story: A milkman in India supplied ten families with the milk of his cows. Each day he brought them fresh milk. What they did not know was that he mixed some water in it, to make more of it. When he was accused of doing this he always lied. However one day the landlord, who was sure that the milkman was cheating, came and said to him "I know that you are mixing water into our milk. Let us also taste the real milk sometimes!" This time the milkman did not deny his trick. All people who got the milk from this milkman the next day found that it tasted different and after drinking it they all started feeling funny and had loose motions. When the milkman came the next day they asked him: "Why did we all get sick? Something must have been wrong with the milk!" And he said: "Oh, no, that was pure milk." They only became sick because they were not used to it.
I gave this story today to explain why it might be difficult for some people to stay in silence. They are not used to it. Talking is like a habit. I repeated this after the Darshan again to prevent something that I noticed last week after the Darshan: Some people, after one hour of meditation in silence, got up and started talking with each other loudly for at least half an hour. I know it is not usual here to be quiet but please, if you start chattering after a meditation you will lose the energy again! So I asked people to go home in silence and to have a nice sleep with this energy from the meditation and to have a nice start in the next day. With this explanation the atmosphere was very different from last Friday. People got up quietly and in peace and started going home. Peace and calmness will be in their sleep tonight.