cleanliness is next to happiness

In our highly intellectual society, where we usually feel especially as we grow older and older, that “I’ve seen life”. Everything relevant is kind of figured out, or can be googled for 😉 Practically speaking, there’s not much more to learn that one wants to spare time for! So there’s barely any scope to in the first place acknowledge that indeed one’s mind does have a bit of pollution. To acknowledge this consciously takes a rare kind of honesty.

Important to note that nothing abstractly philosophical meant by ‘pollution’! Its simply a metaphor for distorted perspective of reality – a colored world-view… thinging!

An even smaller fraction of population may further wonder where all this pollution coming from? There is a lot of clutter we accumulate in our life.Its my belief that its not just a matter of clutter alone, its mainly the way we cling on to each and every item in this clutter. (As the saying goes: ‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people’). Nevertheless, simplifying clutter / de-cluttering is definitely helps 🙂

A lot of us who have come so far, stop here and feel of all the clutter, and the misery that comes free with it: “this is life!”. Everybody faces this and to a large extent unknowingly have the notion: “Some day I will be done with this and that and that other item as well – get over it all – and that day (probably when I retire), my life will begin!” They just accept it as inevitable, and life becomes to a large extent, a mechanical wearisome journey. No wonder American poet Henry David Thoreau mused “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them“. But still there are some who have the gut feeling that there must be something more to it. As long as the child-like curiosity and open mind is alive, one is on the look out for simple, pragmatic solutions to get oneself out of this mess. Then one inevitably comes to the realisation that cleaning one’s mind is a practical, worthwhile endevaour!

Few years ago, I’d tried to explain to a sceptic: Imagine if in a house, we cleaned it regularly by pushing all the dust under the carpet. Then what happens is that the house looks very spic and span to outsiders, but still the dirt is there – maybe even a good breeding ground for some small pests. And then some odor or the other emanates every now and then. But this again can be ‘solved’ by spraying air fresheners and nice perfumes. So these perfumes have a stronger smell than the odour, and one gets the impression that everything is fine now, but the dirt is still there. Another strategy is to use some anaesthetic kind of mild substance that numbs one’s sense of smell – one gets a sense of relief that everything is nice and clean – as long as the effect lasts. Here its pretty obvious to any house keeper that this outward cleanliness is just not sustainable. That atleast once in a way, we really need to clean even under the carpet!

Difference between the house and the mind is that for the latter its just not so obvious 🙂

5 Responses to “cleanliness is next to happiness”

  1. mouna Says:

    according to what you say, everybody is polluted, unless one has shed all love for luxuries in this world. And we know that is unattainable, unless you are very pure in the heart and you are ready to sacrifice in today’s world. What matters is the extent of pollution.

  2. Sanjay M Says:

    hmm that’s a good point mouna… rather than say ‘everybody is polluted’, I’d say ‘everybody is fundamentally clean but they just haven’t found out about it yet 😉

    Either way, I completely agree with you that rather than think of any absolute ideal like ‘pure heart’, there’s more value in just having an idea of the extent of pollution. Here a really vital point I learnt is to only be concerned about my own ‘pollution’ and not try to judge anybody else! Only single question that matters is “Am I less polluted today than yesterday?”

  3. Sanjay M Says:

    Its hard to pinpoint a simple pragmatic common man’s description of ‘pollution’… but I like this one from an essay:

    Probably most of you who’ve worked with cameras know about the kind of filter I mean. The filter fits over the camera lens and blocks out portions of the light—usually certain colors—and lets the remainder pass through to the lens. In effect, the filter selects the portion of light that the camera will “see.”

    Each of us too sees the world through our own “filter”—a filter made up of our assumptions, our motivations, and the categories we use to sort out and organize our experience. This filter determines how we see the world.

    When we come across something that doesn’t match our assumptions, motivations, and categories, our filter blocks it out. It’s not that we choose to reject it. Consciously, we don’t even perceive it. Or else we perceive it in a partial, distorted form.
    ~ Myths About Gandhi

  4. mouna Says:

    yup, that, perhaps is the apt way to think things. is my way of thinking correct, and as u said, we’d have to progress towards a clean frame of mind. but to say that everybody is ‘fundamentally clean’, i don’t think that holds good.

    and moreover, the filters that binds our sight also influences the acts done by a second person. we tend to see things we wish to see with our attitude. don’t u think so?

  5. Sanjay M Says:

    “we tend to see things we wish to see with our attitude” – yes exactly.

    There’s a saying – One’s attitude decides one’s altitude. Another way of ‘cleaning oneself’ can be to consider one’s attitude not as a fixed static “This is my attitude. This is me” but something that one takes responsibility for constantly evolving every day – outdoing oneself by never stagnating, but climbing higher and higher one inch at a time.

    One example of attitude is that while most of the nation seems to be crying out for Kasab the terrorist’s blood – its still possible and very heart-warming that someone can come up with a completely radically different way of looking at things: Dear Terrorist – be my son or brother in your next life!!

    There is another class of people who have completely radical way of looking at things – as we very well know: children! What we ourselves were at some point in time. So in a way, what we are talking about here is nothing but a process of returning to innocence. So the end is the same as the beginning. Yet it isn’t the same.

    My friend Upendra had explained to me the difference: its like coming back a full circle.

    My understanding of this was that initially an individual begins as a child begins innocent and naive. As he (or she) grows he gains knowledge and learns more and more. If at some point he finds himself some or the other all-pervading yet elusive path to return to himself, he returns to the beginning. He becomes almost the same again. The only difference of course is that while is child-like, he is not childish (the vulnerability is missing, self-reliance and sense of responsibility is there).

    Let me confess quite clearly, I’m a very selfish man. I don’t want to compromise on my quality of life. I don’t want to pursue some idealistic goals foolishly, however lofty they might sound. And at the end of the day find out that I’ve been cheating myself and losing out on a lot of good fun in the process!

    So I’ve experimented in the world with an open mind. My experience has left me with no doubt that what we’re discussing about here is about the highest uncompromised quality of life. Though I’ve barely scratched the surface, I’ve found joy and the very elixer of life: love – in these (mostly borrowed 😉 ) ideas 8)

    (Btw its rare that someone actually counters what I write here and even if happens once in a decade I feel that its been worthwhile writing this site – so thank you! 🙂 )

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