The question whether cleanliness in the house and its environment has any impact on spiritual development keeps arising in people’s minds. When we were growing up our parents would always tell us to wash our hands, feet and face when we came home from play or school. We were taught to wash our hands before every meal. Were these societal requirements or is there a deeper significance which has been lost in the passage of time?
Shaucha, or cleanliness, is an important aspect of one’s spiritual development. Cleanliness is not just about the body. It is also about our surroundings. Everything that we perceive through our sense organs can either create filth or wellbeing within ourselves.
Whatever we perceive, if it is pleasant upon our senses, we experience it one way. If it is unpleasant upon our senses, that becomes filth in our experience. If our surroundings are not clean, or in other words, if our surroundings are not pleasant upon our senses, then the images that we create in our mind, the projections that happen upon the seat of our experience turn unpleasant. When we create unpleasantness like this, going into blissful states of experience and consciously generating the nature of our experience becomes difficult.
Whether we are miserable or joyful is determined essentially by what we are doing within ourselves. A spiritual process essentially means everything that we are, happens consciously — our experience of life is determined by us, ourselves. If this has to happen, it is important that our sense organs do not perceive something as unpleasant.
In every culture, we have been told at some point — if not by our parents, at least by our grandparents — about how to keep our clothes and bedclothes. In India in particular, they say that if we leave our bed clothes crumpled and unfolded, ghosts will come and gather. When we sleep, they will sleep with us and trouble us. In English there is a saying, “As you make your bed, so shall you lie upon it.” This is essentially about the forms around us. Today, scientists tell us that the whole existence is just one energy manifesting itself in a million different ways. As energy has generated forms, forms can in turn generate energy. And every form around us is generating a certain type of energy.
The kind of forms we build, the kind of forms we hold around us and the kind of structures we live in have a phenomenal impact on everything that we are. If there is a little more awareness about the way we sit, the way we arrange ourselves and the way we keep things around us, we can create the spatial arrangement in a way that is conducive to looking inwards, and which makes our spiritual process much easier.
If we want to drive from point X to point Y, we could probably drive through anything, but if a proper road is laid out, we would get there easily. In that context, if the spatial arrangement around us is organised in such a way that it is conducive for inward looking, it will happen much more easily.