U Thant on Purity

lotus effectHow popular is purity? How important is it? Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant, referenced it in his standard speech to students and educators around the world. He contended that “happiness was to be found, not in the pursuit of happiness, but in pursuing physical, mental, moral and spiritual perfection – all at the same time. He said: I would attach greater importance to moral qualities or moral virtues over intellectual qualities…. And above all, I would attach the greatest importance to spiritual values, faith in oneself, the purity of one’s inner self, which to me is the greatest virtue of all.”

What is purity? It is “freedom from anything that debases, contaminates, pollutes, etc.” Some may equate purity with prudery or an archaic code of conduct. Who, however, does not really want to be free from anything that debases or contaminates; from anything that enslaves or inhibits one from attaining their goals and dreams?

If there was a plant that symbolized the beauty of purity it might be the lotus bloom. Its almond-shaped petals of dazzling whiteness are catch-your-breath beautiful. The lotus begins life as seed buried in the mud of a pond. It grows in muddy, dirty water, shooting a tuber up through pond scum until its green, round leaves spread out on the surface. The stem of the flower rises another ten to twelve inches above the water where the blossom with its pure white petals open, providing a stark, but beautiful contrast to the muddy environment in which it thrives. Although the petal has the texture of velvet, when placed under a microscope, a textured, pointy surface somewhat resembling the surface of a board with a forest of nails protruding from underneath appears.

Think of a small piece of paper floating down upon such a board. It might rest on the board of nails, but it will not adhere, and should a ball of water roll down the surface of the nails it would sweep the paper away. Dust may fall on the surface of lotus petals, but the morning dew or a few drops of rain wash them away.

A quick 360 of reality around us reveals the muddy dirty scum that floats on top of parts of the world. Humans behead, rape, and murder both bodies and reputations. Sadly, the human soul does not have a self-cleaning mechanism spiritually akin to the lotus petal. There is a way to clean our guilty consciences and souls, however. It is confession. The apostle Paul saw this when he said the human race lives “in the futility of their minds”. Matthew and Mark describe some of the ways people live “in ignorance and hardness of heart”. The disciple Jesus loved said, “If we confess our sins (wrong doing), he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

“Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity”.

“God blesses those whose hearts are pure”. The heart is the center of one’s being, including mind, emotions and will. Confession is the cleaner for our hearts and souls.

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