In popular imagination, being pure hearted is almost a sign of being a fool. A very famous movie, Forrest Gump was about a simple minded fool who wins hearts. In fact, even in Delhi, when people have to say something bad about someone behind their back, the worst they can say is “this fellow is pure hearted”. In other words, they have run out of positive things to say, so “this guy is an idiot, but maybe he means well”. दिल का साफ़ (pure of heart).
This month, I am talking about how to lead a full life. Today is day 9.
Patanjali talks about शौच, saucha, or purity. We understand that the reference here isn’t just to wearing clean clothes and masking body odor. Its about being pure in body, speech and mind (heart). And it’s the purity of heart that is the most important. A crisp clean-cotton wearing, smooth-talking Godman will give you purity of talk, but if their heart is not pure, the words are of no value.
But first, in today’s world, why should anyone be interested in purity? Wouldn’t it better to have guile or some protective wrapping of deceit to be able to move around in this world unharmed? I used to think so too, because it seems to be the norm. No one seems to be as they appear, and no words are as they sound. Duplicity is everywhere. But having watched for a long enough time, I find that this lack of purity comes at a long term cost, and in the long term truth always wins. सत्यमेव जयते, truth alone triumphs, it says on all India currency.
It comes down to energy. If you are committed to your work, you want to bring the maximum energy into it. And the only way to get energy flowing inside the heart is to be pure. Dragging along a web of lies and deceit gets tiring after a while, and eventually it is going to crumble anyways. American humorist, and Internet quote-machine, Mark Twain sort-of said “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything”.
Sri Krishna says (in Mahabharata)
तीर्थानां हृदयं तीर्थं शुचीनां हृदयं शुचि: (शान्ति)
Amongst pilgrimages, the heart is the best, and amongst purity, the purity of the heart is the highest.
But its not easy at all to become pure of heart. It’s a long hard practice. Guru Nanak said that if you have to clean a dirty cloth, you just run it with water and soap, and it will be clean. But when you have a dirty mind, filled with clutter and uselessness, then you need a special practice.
It doesn’t sound modern enough to quote the Gita or to talk about the heart of purity. I understand that. But in a world crippled by #FakeNews, we have to begin to counter it by clearing our own heart first. There is no hope in the world if we can’t even keep our hearts pure. And if we have pure hearts, we will all find a way to be hopeful about the world.