Purity is the counterpart to sincerity. It is prized and sought
after in every religion as the foundation for proper action. The
religions of China and Japan emphasize that even before exerting effort, a
person should purify his or her heart. Passages in this section use the
motifs of the mirror and ablution with water to set forth the idea of
inward purity of mind. Such ideas of purity are found everywhere, but
purity is particularly central to Shinto, as represented here by a central
chapter from the Kojiki in which the very creation of the gods takes place
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Christianity. Matthew 5.8
By purity of heart alone is the holy Eternal attained.
Sikhism. Adi Granth, Asa-ki-Var, M.1, p. 472
Filth on hands, feet, and body may be washed off with water;
Clothes fouled by dirt may be washed with soap;
The mind fouled by sin and evil
May only be cleansed by devotion to God.
Sikhism. Adi Granth, Japuji 20, M.1, p. 4
For everything there is an appropriate way of polishing; the heart's
polishing is the remembrance of God.
Islam. Hadith of Tirmidhi
O my brother! A pure heart is as a mirror; cleanse it with the burnish of
love and severance from all save God, that the true sun may shine within
it and the eternal morning dawn.
Baha'i Faith. The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys, 21
Matthew 5.8: Cf. Psalm 24.3-6, p. 229; Dhammapada 183, p. 715. Hadith of
Tirmidhi: Cf. Qur'an 2.222, p. 902.
Even as a mirror stained by dust
Shines brilliantly when it has been cleansed,
So the embodied one, on seeing the nature of the Self,
Becomes unitary, his end attained, from sorrow freed.
Hinduism. Svetasvatara Upanishad 2.14
All you who come before me, hoping to attain the accomplishment of your
desires, pray with hearts pure from falsehood, clean within and without,
reflecting the truth like a mirror.
Shinto. Oracle of Temmangu
The mind of the perfect man is like a mirror. It does not lean forward or
backward in its response to things. It responds to things but conceals
nothing of its own. Therefore it is able to deal with things without
injury to [its reality].
Taoism. Chuang Tzu 7
Though I had nothing to eat but a red-hot ball of iron, I will never
accept the most savory food offered by a person with an impure mind.
Though I were sitting upon a blazing fire hot enough to melt copper, I
will never go to visit the place of a person with a polluted mind.
Shinto. Oracle of the Kami Hachiman
Should clothing be rendered impure if blood-stained, How reckon pure the
way of those who suck human blood? Saith Nanak: Utter God's Name with thy
tongue in purity of heart-- That alone is true religion; All else is
worldly show and false deeds.
Sikhism. Adi Granth, Var Majh, M.1, p. 140
The body is cleansed by water, the internal organ is purified by
truthfulness, the individual soul by sacred learning and austerities, the
intellect by true knowledge.
Hinduism. Laws of Manu 5.109
Svetasvatara Upanishad 2.14: The mirror of the soul is cleansed through
meditation, pp. 842f. Oracle of Temmangu: Here makoto is translated
'truth,' but it in fact connotes sincerity and inner coherence. See
Divine Injunctions, p. 721. On Temmangu, see p. 246n. Chuang Tzu 7: Cf.
Dhammapada 95, p. 230; Garland Sutra 10. This verse also has to do with
an attitude of detachment; see Diamond Sutra 10, p. 933. Oracle of the
Kami Hachiman: This is one of the Oracles of the Three Shrines, printed on
hanging scrolls and found hung in homes throughout Japan. Var Majh, M.1:
Cf. Asa-ki-Var, M.1, p. 225. Laws of Manu 5.109: Cf. Bhagavad Gita
4.37-38, p. 790; Udana 6, p. 858.
If any one purifies himself from what is ignoble, then he will be a vessel
consecrated and useful to the Master of the house, ready for any good
work. So shun youthful passions and aim at righteousness, faith, love,
and peace, along with those who call upon the Lord with a pure heart.
Christianity. 2 Timothy 2.21-22
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Fill me with joy and gladness;
let the bones which thou hast broken rejoice.
Hide thy face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Judaism and Christianity. Psalms 51.6-10
"Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes.
Cease to do evil, learn to do good.
Seek justice, correct oppression.
Defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.
"Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord.
"Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
If you are willing and obedient
you shall eat the good of the land;
But if you refuse and rebel,
you shall be devoured by the sword;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."
Judaism and Christianity. Isaiah 1.16-20
Izanagi said, "I have been to a most unpleasant, a horrible,
unclean land [the underworld]. Therefore I shall purify myself." Arriving
at the plain Ahakihara by the river-mouth of Tachibana in Himuka in
Tsukushi, he purified and exorcised himself....
After taking off the articles worn on his body, he said, "The
current of the upper stream is a current too swift; the current in the
lower stream is a current too weak." Then, when he went down and dived
into the middle stream and bathed, there came into existence a deity named
Yasomagatsuhi-no-kami [Numerous Forces of Misfortune]; next,
Omagatsuhi-no-kami [Spirit of Great Calamity]. These two deities came
into existence from the pollution which he took on when he went to that
Next, in order to rectify these evils, there came into existence
the deity Kannaobi-no-kami [Divine Renewal God]; next, Onaobi-no-kami
[Great Renewal God]; next, Izunome-no-kami.
Next, when he bathed at the bottom of the water, there came into
existence the deity named Sokotsuwatatsumi-no-kami [Bottom Sea-Spirit
Deity] and Sokotsutsunoo-no-kami [Bottom Spirit Male Lord]. Next, when he
bathed in the middle, there came into existence the deity named
Nakatsuwatatsumi-no-kami [Middle Sea-Spirit Deity] and
Nakatsutsunoo-no-kami [Middle Spirit Male Lord]. When he bathed at the
surface of the water, there came into existence the deity named
Uwatsuwatatsumi-no-kami [Upper Sea-Spirit Deity] and Uwatsutsunoo-no-kami
[Upper Spirit Male Lord]....
Then when he washed his left eye, there came into existence a deity
Next, when he washed his right eye, there came into existence a
deity named Tsukiyomi-no-mikoto [the Moon god].
Next, when he washed his nose, there came into existence the deity
Shinto. Kojiki 11
2 Timothy 2.21-22: Cf. Hebrews 9.11-14, p. 521; Titus 1.15, p. 725;
Analects 2.2, p. 926. Kojiki 11: Izanagi must purify himself after
visiting the land of the dead. The first fruits of his purification are
deities of misfortune, representing the pollutions which he is casting
off; the next three deities are the great gods of purification who are
entreated in the Shinto rite of shubatsu (purification) to this day. The
following three pairs of kami are ancestral deities of various clans in
Japan, and the final fruits of purification are the major deities:
Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess and chief Shinto diety, and Susanoo,
Amaterasu's rival and a storm god; see Kojiki 19, p. 626n. This passage
is a scriptural root for the widespread concern for purification of both
body and mind in Shinto. Cf. Engishiki 8, p. 522.