A public park near the French capital Paris has designated an area for nudists. The site, as large as a football pitch, will be open until 15th October as part of a temporary experiment. There are measures to avoid misuse, but the overall idea is to have an “open-minded vision for the use of Parisian parks.” Naturists predict that thousands will flock to the park, while the more conservative contingent are deeming the whole initiative “crazy.” Paris already has one public pool where people can swim naked three times a week. Does nudity and naturality go hand-in-hand? What could be the possible repercussions? Is nakedness a progressive way forward?
I guess the more noble proponents of nudity are searching for more authenticity, more purity, more freedom, more naturalness and more equality. In a world riddled with superficiality and ‘cover-ups’ you can appreciate the attempt to strip down the external layers. Maybe that will facilitate more genuine interactions, relationships and community. Maybe we need to break down artificial taboos and find our true self. All good sentiments, no doubt. But is nudity really the way forward?
Yoga wisdom begins with a foundational understanding of identity. The physical body and the subtle mind, sages explain, are simply coverings of the soul. In 1965, Swami Prabhupada, freshly arrived from India, visited a hippie commune to share his spiritual insights. He took to the stage, and with eyes closed, began meditatively singing. When he gazed out some minutes later he saw a huge crowd… most of whom were completely naked! Adressing this phenomena, the Swami quipped: “I can see you like to take your clothes off – so now we invite you to go beyond the conception of the body, which itself is an artificial covering of the soul!”
In the attempt to shed some layers, nudity can drape us into a thicker illusion. If we are not our bodies, then unrestricted exposure may well cause us to become more engrained in that misconception. By covering up, we create the necessary sobriety to find our deeper identity. We need to redirect the focus from the physical to the spiritual. Stripping down, may well increase the superficiality. Rather than campaigning for naked bodies, lets search for the naked truth. Then we’ll find true freedom, equality, authenticity and naturalness.