“Black and White” Purity vs. Continuum Purity

I want to build on an idea that I touched on in my last purity post: the idea of purity as a continuum, as opposed to a binary state of being. Purity is truly both of these things, but cannot be one without the other.

As I said in my last post, purity can only be built upon how a person feels on average. That average is different for every person, depending on circumstances, chronic ailments or injuries. In this sense, purity is on a continuum. The person who struggles to get out of bed may not be as diligent as someone who goes every day. But for those who go to shrine every day – those who perform State rituals before open Icons – those who are able to purify to a higher standard: the standards are different.

In this sense, purity is a continuum. We work to achieve a higher standard of purity; where we start, it might be simple, but gradually we spread that purity throughout our lives. We bring our purity into our homes, our professional work, and our relationships. As we become more skilled at purifying ourselves, these areas of our lives become more pure as well – meaning, more balanced, more honest, more appropriate. This purity cannot be measured in terms of “pure” or “impure”, especially because the nature of living dictates that purity will ebb and need restoring as a result of daily activity.

Purity is, however, a black and white state in terms of having performed purification rites. We are obligated to perform ritual actions of washing or bathing. When we have done these rites, we are pure. If we have not, we are not – simple as that. The rites we do might depend on our own personal purity continuum, but we either do them or do not.

Purity is complex in its simplicity. The more work we do for it, the purer, the more balanced and centered we become.

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