In the following discussions we intend to present a scientific, objective view of amaroli - assessing all the points on the kidney, urine and its uses - in order to approach the subject with adequate understanding and a more balanced perspective. Much of this material has been collated from the seminar on amaroli held at the Bihar School of Yoga, IYFM Research Coordinating Centre, in March 1978. The panel included Dr Swami Shankardevananda Saraswati, MB, BS (Syd.); Dr Swami Vivekananda Saraswati, MB, BS (Syd.), MANZCP, DPM; and Swami Buddhananda Saraswati, BA, Dip. Ac. (HK & Aust), DNMN, all of whom have had experience with amaroli. In the text they are referred to as Dr S; Dr V; and Sw. B respectively. Many of the swamis and visitors to the ashram who participated in the seminar also contributed their experiences, some of which have been recorded here. Other material was collated from various scriptures, books and magazines.
Dr S: In tantra, the psychological aspects include not just the intellect, but also the psychic and intuitive components of the mind. The mind is energy, or prana, and is capable of many miracles: thinking, understanding and awareness being just a few. The power of the mind over the body is supreme and if we can tap its energy through yogic practices, we can control various bodily processes.
If the blocks that prevent such control include neuroses about excretory function, urination, and other 'giving out' processes, then working with urine will have many repercussions. That is, if our unconscious attitude is one in which we try to keep, maintain possession of, hold in our bodily wastes, or one in which we use them as 'weapons', hurling them out as vehicles for our aggression, leaving them as signs of our anger, then the recycling of urine will have a dramatic effect on the mind and the whole personality. The insights that could come from working with our urine would be profound, and could liberate a burst of energy that greatly increases our physical and mental freedom.
By using our own body processes to heal ourselves, we also open a new door for the healing profession. It intimates that the powers of the body and the universe are vast and limitless, just waiting for us to reach out and grasp them. The chances for individual growth, maturity and expansion of awareness are enhanced and so is the potency of yogic practices which are directed towards expansion and liberation.
The psychological aspects of amaroli are perhaps the most interesting and at the same time obstructing factors in the use of this technique. There are very few people who can approach amaroli without some trepidation and feelings of disgust, especially where drinking is required. The question arises as to the validity of such 'innate' reactions, whether they are instinctual or learned, natural or unnatural, appropriate or inappropriate. If the feelings associated with urine are appropriate we must then ask ourselves if this method is valid. Indeed, the whole psychological side of amaroli requires some deep thought.
Sw. B: Most people have a psychological handicap when it comes to even touching urine. They do not like so much as one drop to touch their bodies and if this happens, they wash themselves with soap and water. At the same time they suffer a kind of psychological upheaval and feelings of revulsion even to the point of nausea and vomiting.
Whether urine is a body waste or a nectar, this type of reaction to our own body fluids is abnormal. It reflects a degree of ignorance, superstition and preconditioning programmed on false information and old wives tales. More basic than this though, it reflects our whole attitude to our bodies. Within us there is a deep abhorrence towards anything to do with the inner workings of the body. Perhaps this is also seen in our revulsion for seeing blood, road accidents or any sort of injury. When an internal part of the body becomes exposed to the outside we immediately turn our heads away to avoid seeing what is leaking out.
All this arises from ignorance, because we do not know about our anatomy, physiology and so on. Due to this absence of knowledge, and absence of awareness of feeling inside the body, many fantasies and potentially harmful thoughts and imaginings go on.
So, to understand the question of amaroli from the psychological point of view, we have to examine our mental attitude, and heighten our awareness. We know that many of our attitudes are the product of our upbringing. Our parents and our immediate environment mould our impressionable minds and we also absorb their views, opinions, habits and cultural framework. This stamp remains indelibly imprinted on most people, being modified only slightly during the course of their lives. Few people have the courage to pull apart, examine and clean the various bits and pieces of their psychic life, in order to establish a higher and better mode of functioning. Yoga is one way of doing this, and its increasing popularity demonstrates that many more people are willing to examine themselves in the hope of raising their consciousness and improving the quality of their lives.
In attempting to restructure ourselves through yoga we come across the amazing fact that our attitude to life has been far from perfect, and in many cases unhealthy. We find that our knowledge is limited, our perception hazy, unclear and cluttered with various wrong impressions, memories and so on. Our actions are awkward and not fully within our control. For most of the time we have not been aware of this, but the moment we do become aware, then we can start to do something about it.
Dr V: Our attitude to amaroli is not an innate or instinctual drive, something that we know at birth. Rather it is a learned process; we are taught that urine is 'bad' or 'dirty'. Children will urinate on the floor, sit in it, and even drink urine without any fear. We can develop inappropriate fears of urine because our parents teach us this fear and distaste. In an enlightened family, the child is allowed to develop naturally at his own speed by following the example of his parents. However, for some unfortunates, the process is unnaturally pushed and speeded up. Phobias and neuroses develop. We think urine is dirty and actually fear it, yet it is a perfectly harmless substance, derived from the blood and completely sterile in healthy people. Perhaps we have confused it with other effluents and excretions from the body, but this is a mistake. At the same time we must put urine into its proper perspective. In a big city it isn't practical or sanitary for people to urinate on the streets. However, in the country, urine adds nitrogen to the soil, and in this we can see nature's recycling process managing everything. When used with the correct attitude, urine is a natural, sterile substance which may have medicinal and therapeutic properties. Even if we don't see urine as a medicine, we should feel free to touch it. After all we use so many poisons and think nothing of it because we are told they are safe. With a clear mind we ingest insecticides, artificial flavouring and colouring, etc. yet we are revolted by our own urine.
If amaroli proves to be a practical method of breaking down our inappropriate conditioning to urine, it will be easier to break down other neuroses and phobias, and in this way to attain psychological health and maturity. By winning one battle with the anxieties of the mind, it is easier to win the rest. The mind plays such a vast role in disease - it is only a matter of common sense that many physical ills can also be cured through this approach. Probably, the best way to achieve a healthy attitude to urine is the step-by-step approach. First, place some urine on the hands, feel the texture, smell it, and see what reactions take place inside. If there is a revulsion and negative reaction, then continue this process for some time until you feel better about it. When you feel neutral towards urine, put a drop on your tongue and taste it. You may even like it! Continue the process until all negative and positive feelings drop away and you feel neutral. This develops pure awareness, without the interference of thoughts, conditioning and other confusions. True understanding can then arise. This process of facing conflicts and removing them by deconditioning is used in behavioural therapy by many modern psychiatrists and psychologists.
Sw. B: Another reason that people may fear urine is that it can sometimes be associated with sexual problems. Urine is close allied to the genital region, and may be unconsciously associated with the restrictions and guilts concerning the private parts of the body and sexual expression.
Dr S: The sexual component of amaroli is a highly charged subject. All neuroses, whether they be a fear of urine or of sex, involve the suppression of energy. The energy that would normally be channelled into ambition, sexual activity and so on, is redirected otherwise, perhaps into disease. We also need to expend energy to maintain our neuroses, because they are not natural, free flowing processes.
Nature designs her systems so that the energies released are free and spontaneous. For example, happiness and inner security are natural states of mind. They are energy enhancing. When we develop neuroses, we block the natural energy flow, we disrupt our natural energy. When we have a neurosis about sex, urine or anything else, we create a blockage and we lose energy. We are left frustrated, depressed, insecure and fearful of each and every thing. All yogic practices are designed to release neurosis so that our mind remains calm under any circumstances. Amaroli appears to be designed specifically to break down the neuroses associated with urine, sex and other associated problems.
So, the development of freer attitudes towards urine could be a beneficial step, especially if it is taken with the idea that we are removing mental as well as physical blockages. With the growth of awareness, mental and emotional maturity arise. More and more blocks are removed, and energy that was suppressed is released. We feel more alive, more vital, and more capable. Self confidence soars, and life becomes a joyful experience, a veritable heaven on earth.
'All this from amaroli?' we might well ask. Urine itself may or may not contain prana, yet, according to the ancient sages, urine has within it the power to release the pranas of mind and body. Once we break down the essential barriers of the mind that prevent us from using amaroli, we can allow the physical process to proceed unhindered. We can then objectify the whole process and see for ourselves whether there is anything in it at all for us personally.
It appears that amaroli may be validated from the psychological point of view, the physical therapeutic aspects aside. If we discover that amaroli has something to offer us, and this alters our attitudes to something we previously thought unpleasant, we can then be more open and free to discover other miracles of life that once worried us. In this way we can turn our whole attitude towards the world in a more positive direction so that the unknown becomes a subject of awe and mystery, rather than something to fear and run away from.