In the physical world, purity is defined as the absence of contaminants in a substance. Extending this concept to the mental world, purity of thoughts and ideas is perhaps the absence of distraction created by the power of focus and concentration. So, what does purity mean in the context of spirituality and spiritual practice? One concept of spiritual purity can refer to strength of inner character, of inner essence.
Over the ages, the idea of purity, or rather the lack of it, has been used by some religions and societies to ostracize those who may have had a difference of opinion or belief from the majority. In particular, those who refused to follow doctrine or tradition or cultural norms were labeled as ‘impure’ and banished from mainstream circulation. This misuse of the idea of (im)purity often causes us to view the idea of purity with suspicion and scepticism.
When applied for good and goodness, purity can serve to inspire us in many ways. The brilliant glow of a myriad of pure colors in the sky during a sunrise or sunset is one example of inspiration provided by purity. The purity of intent of migrating birds and butterflies, the purity of action of bees seeking nectar from flowers, the purity of waters emerging from melting glaciers forming rivers… all of these create a sense of peace and lightness in our spirit, an aspiration for inner purity among us.
One may pause to ask – is purity of spirit, purity of action, purity of intent, purity of thought, purity of words possible for human beings? With our constant battles with our mind and our ego – both of which work to fan the fires of our distractions, our illusions and our seemingly never-ending material desires – is purity simply a distant pipe-dream? The other question that one may ask – why is purity necessary or essential for spiritual growth? But perhaps we are not to seek purity, for it is already within us?
One way that we can assess the value and benefit of purity is by how we feel in its presence. When we drink pure water or juice, or eat a meal created from the purest available ingredients, do we not feel better overall? When our bodies feel clean and luminous in health, do we not perform a bit better at whatever we set out to do? When our minds are fired with purity of single-minded purpose, do we not “shake the world in a gentle way”? When in the company of those who have been practicing purity of thought, word and action, do we not feel elevated in our heart and spirit?
I am sure that you have many more thoughts and ideas about purity, and being in its presence. I invite you to share with us, the #SpiritChat community, Sunday April 19th at 9am ET on twitter. We will explore this topic with a Q&A session, and I invite you to share some potential questions in the comments below.
Namaste, with purity of heart,
All glory, power, and #purity are within your soul already. Stand up and express the divinity within You! ~ Swami Vivekananda