Purity ... (core of religious piety? or mark of sectarian intolerance?)

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Penelope, Mar 30, 2010.

  1. Penelope

    Penelope weak force testosterone

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    Most if not all religions exhibit - as one of their devotional rites - the idea of purity.

    This good or bad?

    & & &

    Cleanliness. Asceticism. Discipline. Correct mind. Correct body ...
    Spiritual purity.

    Sectarian distinctions of class, race, gender ...
    Innate hierarchy based upon dogmatic discrimination of purity and impurity.
     
  2. Eudaimonist

    Eudaimonist In Galt We Trust

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    Examples?


    eudaimonia,

    Mark
     
  3. citizenzen

    citizenzen Custom User Title

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    In the hands of the wise it is good.

    In the hands of the deluded... not so.
     
  4. OAT

    OAT Where is the TAO?

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    In Buddhism, to reach the enlightenment of a Buddha, part of the process requires one to drop all concepts, including dualistic concepts of good and bad, pure and impure, clean and dirty, discipline and indiscipline etc.
     
  5. citizenzen

    citizenzen Custom User Title

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    On the other hand the Buddha laid out the Eight-Fold Path as a foundation to one's development. There may quibbles as to whether the word "purity" exactly describes the intent behind the Eight-Fold Path, however, the notion of working towards refining one's nature, thoughts and actions seems to fit the thread's theme.

    Purity is more than a mere concept, it is a reflection of a ripened and wise mind.
     
  6. Penelope

    Penelope weak force testosterone

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    Penelope:
    Sectarian distinctions of class, race, gender ...
    Innate hierarchy based upon dogmatic discrimination of perceived purity and impurity.

    Mark (Eudaimonist):
    Examples?

    & & &

    In most cultures of the past, and some still in the current world, a woman is seen as "impure" when she is menstruating. For some of these cultures, the woman is impure only when she menstruates, but not in the in-between times. In other cultures, a woman is eternally tainted by this (superstitious) "impurity." She is blocked from certain activities of the culture - particularly certain high-level religious practices, which are reserved for "pure" males.

    She is "impure" not due to her own bad behavior, but because she is seen as innately "impure."

    & & &

    Racial half-breeds, in many cultures, are seen as "impure." Due only to race, not conduct. (And denied access to certain cultural and/or religious practices within the society.)

    & & &

    In many cultures, only the aristocracy - because of their "good blood" - are "pure" enough to go on chivalric quests, or to give-away all they own, hit the road, and seek a religious truth.

    Lower classes (due to their "low birth") are seen as too "impure" for the highest things.

    & & &

    In some cultures, those born blind or deaf or crippled are considered cursed by their god. "Impure" due to the sin of one or both of their parents.

    & & &

    In many cultures still, only virgin females are considered "pure" and marriageable.

    A woman, spoiled by sexual contact, is "impure." (Even if raped. In some cultures, all married women are considered inherently "impure," due to sex. Even while their husband, despite sexual-activity, is irregardless still considered "pure.")

    & & &

    You can't escape double-standards (historically) where "purity" is concerned.

    And many of these double-standards still exist today.
     
  7. Penelope

    Penelope weak force testosterone

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    Is purity merely a refinement process?
    Sitting under a tree or in a cave or on a high butte, for hours on end ... till this person (via sensory-deprivation) begins to auto-hallucinate ...
    And some Great Truth comes knocking on Brain's door?

    Does exercising one's muscles - getting up, going somewhere and doing something - then, inevitably, carry the mark of impurity?

    & & &

    Another angle from which to look at purity is ...
    that place in romantic literature where purity and impurity merge in one character. In that character's single-minded heroic quest.

    In the ruggedness of someone who climbs mountains or crosses vast deserts, eyes fixed solely upon the final goal. The ultimate prize.
    Captain Ahab - in Moby Dick - ranging over the vast ocean seeking a White Whale.
    The Klaus Kinski character - in Aguirre, Wrath of God - seeking a City of Gold in 16th century Peru.

    The impurity is in the barbaric cruelty, the devastating human cost which is the real-world end-product of this quest.
    The purity is in the singularity of this quest's obsession.
     
  8. citizenzen

    citizenzen Custom User Title

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    I'm a touch confused. In my first response to your topic I talked about purity in a very general sense. Your follow-up led me to believe I had misinterpreted your intent, as you focused on purity and the double standard of sexuality. And now it seems as if you're looking to broaden the topic again beyond that sexual double standard.

    Could you please clarify?

    From a Buddhist standpoint, as I interpret it, as a person becomes wiser and enlightened their actions become more "pure" as they are motivated by compassion as opposed to self interest.

    Why should exercising one's muscles would "carry the mark of impurity"? That is a baffling concept to me. It would imply that upon enlightenment one should curl up in a fetal ball and (eventually) die in that spot. That doesn't sound very enlightened to me.
     
  9. shawn

    shawn Well-Known Member

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    This has to do with the idea that the "life is in the blood", that there is an energy component to life, which, while invisible to our ordinary senses is still there nonetheless.
    It is based on very old ideas which have been reduced to superstition status.



    This is due to the ideas that people have descended from the gods, and that gods have to do with men...you know visitors from the heavens, off-world, other-world types of beings who are superior to us poor earth bound misfits as evidenced by their long-lives and obvious prowess in things technological (misunderstood by our gaping ancestors as magical and supernatural).
    The religions have certainly made plenty of hay off of this idea with divine birth and divine sanction. Tales of which they have filled the heads of our unlettered forebears for generations to prop up whatever monarchy they were in cahoots with.

    Obviously a "curse" to be born defective somehow. People used to be made "stillborn" if they came out with obvious defects.....you know....for the common good, so they wouldn't be a drain on the time and resources of the tribe.
    The why was not so cut and dried as you suggest as many cultures thought the defect was not primarily the parents fault, but the one so born was due to previous errors for which the handicaps were a form of karmic justice, primarily for the child, but also by extension for the parents.

    This again has to do with the "energy" component which while invisible, has influence.
    Sex being a means of bonding physically and etherically with "soul-ties".
    Once mated, an individual then is bonded for life with those they have had sex with.

    Double standards and double-speak exist everywhere we look.

    I am not defending in the above comments, merely stating what I know pertaining to it.
    So what do you do about it?
    Dialogue is good, but we need to dig at the roots of it to deal with it rather than thrash at the branches.
     
  10. Sylvan

    Sylvan Member

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    I think this is one religious concept that has been the most twisted and distorted over time, and it has its root in the dual nature of God as spiritual source of all and material base of creation. Base matter is "lowest", i.e. it has the least consciousness. The spiritual realms are "higher" in the sense that they are the most aware, and "closer" to God in those terms. The division applies between levels of creation and levels within each individual. The pure is that which approaches higher, that which transcends the lower, more automatic, material aspects of oneself.

    The dichotomy isn't "good" or "bad", it is simply a way of discerning objective reality (i.e. essence). However, false dichotomies are easily perpetuated by those who seek to dominate and control, and essence is lost to superficial categories. So the prime duality of "higher" (i.e. approaching God in his spiritual state of totality) and "lower" (i.e. the emergence or expression of God through material creation) becomes distorted and takes the form of superficial categories. In this sense, women become "impure", and men become "pure". Believers vs. non-believers. In the bible and true vs. not in the bible and false. Etc.

    But they miss the point. Within each person is the capacity to become more "pure", more in accord with Spirit, while fully aware of one's own state of sinfulness, i.e. mechanical, selfish reactions, egotism, hedonism, etc. It's ironic that a true understanding of this duality brings one to a perspective totally opposite to the one that persecutes others for their perceived "impurity". When one becomes aware of one's own flaws, truly sees them and is horrified by them, it is natural to forgive others for their own flaws. After all, we are no different. Our own suffering (and the suffering caused be seeing the suffering we have caused in others) makes us more understanding. We can see the petty manipulations of ourselves and others, yet not judge because of them.

    But those without such self-knowledge see only the flaws in others, and thus create the very false dichotomies that foster more intolerance.

     
  11. Dream

    Dream Well-Known Member

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    Usually its used destructively. By purity I mean a lot more things than just the above concepts of virginal purity, though they are included. Usually purity is most eagerly seized upon and misunderstood by the immature. Instead of a standard for everyone to approach it easily becomes a denial of reality. Nobody has to teach purity for this to happen, either. We just are a bunch of purists, and we're looking for something to be purist about.

    It can be a good thing, so how can we make it into a good thing? I think misuse of purity happens when life experiences aren't shared enough, or perhaps when there isn't enough education. Its a kind of naivete that creates puritanical attitudes.
     
  12. Sylvan

    Sylvan Member

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    It also comes from mistaking the results of the process of spiritual "purification" with the process itself. For example, the tendency to promote "having faith" and "being altruistic" without first realizing that these are results of spiritual maturation, not "givens". The biggest corruption of purity comes from those who assume they are already pure, and must then purify others (often with coercive or violent means).
     
  13. shawn

    shawn Well-Known Member

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    This is due to their having to compensate for their lack of real inner change.
    To prove to others that they are holy and worthy of respect, such have done many atrocities throughout history.
    It doesn't prove what such think it does except in the eyes of the ignorant who mistake force and cleverness for real inner maturity.
     
  14. Sylvan

    Sylvan Member

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    And that's just for those whose nature it is to subjugate others. For those with a more accepting nature, they think it is some flaw in themselves for not having the qualities that they "should" have, and it leads to anomie and despair.
     
  15. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    are we not just revisiting a point you failed to make effectively last time, penelope?

    http://www.interfaith.org/forum/jesus-miracles-contesting-a-core-12235.html#post217210
    http://www.interfaith.org/forum/jesus-miracles-contesting-a-core-12235.html#post217256

    you came out with the usual "unclean means that women are somehow dirty, blah blah menstruation blah blah hygiene blah blah primitive societies" line of argument and i pointed out that no, that's just a poor english translation which misrepresents a highly complex system, which i have previously rebutted at some length here:

    http://www.interfaith.org/forum/leviticus-9097.html#post150838

    why is it that you don't read responses to questions and then ask the questions again? are you expecting different ones, or ones that fit your prejudices better?

    i will quote myself yet again:

    i now look forward with great pleasure to hearing about how your recent visit to the hardware store reminded you of a parrot that was once owned by your aunt.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  16. The Undecided

    The Undecided Well-Known Member

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    A lot of negativity towards women and those of us who are less fortunate by the religious contingent is due to prejudice on the part of those who wrote a lot of the scriptures, which were added at a later date to the original text, and have since become dogma. The writers and upholders of this dogma were invariably men who were full of guilt regarding there own desires, emotions and feelings that they were ashamed to be having. So, they did what a lot of us do in this situation and projected these 'shamfull' desires onto the objects of these desires. Eg: a male priest who is attracted to women would blame the women for tempting him. This is the reason women were not allowed to become members of the clergy until recently, why we had witch hunts, why gay people are condemed, cast systems exist and as you have said there is glaring hypocracy within most organised religions. Also, because these prejudices have been around for a long time they have found their way into the dogma which so many of us believe so readily in.

    TU:D
     
  17. Sam Albion

    Sam Albion akaFrancisKing:ViveLeRoi!

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    The parrot isn't dead... No... he's just... sleeping, Sir.
     
  18. Dogbrain

    Dogbrain Well-Known Member

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    Purity is a dangerous servant and a horrible master. Anyone with any higher impulse recognizes the need for us to be "clean" in behavior and thought. However, it is easier to conflate external signs of "clean" with actual spiritual regeneration.

    This problem has been known for a very long time. "Woe to you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! You are like white sepulchres, shining on the outside while inside is bones and decay."
     

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