World Scripture


       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
through purification.

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 unclean land. 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 named Amaterasu-omi-kami. 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 named Susanoo-no-mikoto. 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.