View Full Version : Purification practice

01 May 16, 07:16
While browsing the internet this morning, I came across a definition of "purification" at the website of encyclopedia.com:


The concept of purification, or the ritual cleansing of persons and objects, is found across cultures and religions. It is present in urban and rural settings, in sectarian and secularized societies, and in tribal and multiethnic communities. It has been a sociological feature of human existence from antiquity to modernity, one with an array of behavioral guidelines and consequences.

Purification is associated with two other socioreligious notions: purity and pollution. Purity is linked to sanctity, devotion, and safety; pollution is associated with impurity, irreligion, and danger. Purification is regarded as a means of transitioning from a polluted to a pure state. Personal and group activities are carefully regulated by rules and rites designed to protect and purify individuals, communities, the deity or deities venerated by those groups, and even the world itself from the impurity supposedly caused by pollution.

These notions arise from within the context of religious worldviews, and they often have transgressions and demonology as causative factors and penitence and exorcism as resolutionary mechanisms.

Modern notions of hygiene, disease, waste products, and environmental contaminants that appear to be reflected in the codes and practices of purity, pollution, and purification bear only an inadvertent correspondence to purification. Purity and pollution are usually not based on physical cleanness and uncleanness, but on holiness and the loss of that state through inadvertent and deliberate violations of socioreligious tenets that renders a believer devotionally impure or polluted, thereby excluding him or her from partaking in the activities of a confessional community.


The ideal of purity, the fear of pollution, and the quest for purification arose from the systemic ordering of the religious world. The problem of pollution became a subcategory of evil because ritual impurity was equated with moral disorder caused by the forces of evil. Thus, the holy had to be protected from defilement. As a result, purity and impurity came to be regarded as opposites within religious settings.


What's your understanding and experience of the practice of "purification" in Buddhism?


01 May 16, 15:50
There is the case where the brahmans of the Western lands... get their disciples to undertake their practice thus: ‘Come, now, my good man: Get up at the proper time from your bed and touch the earth. If you don’t touch the earth, touch wet cow dung. If you don’t touch wet cow dung, touch green grass. If you don’t touch green grass, worship a fire. If you don’t worship a fire, pay homage to the sun with clasped hands. If you don’t pay homage to the sun with clasped hands, go down into the water three times by nightfall.’ These are the purification rites declared by the brahmans of the Western lands... of which I approve.”

“Cunda, the purification rites declared by the brahmans of the Western lands... are one thing; the purification in the discipline of the noble ones is something else entirely.”


02 May 16, 06:03
“Cunda, the purification rites declared by the brahmans of the Western lands... are one thing; the purification in the discipline of the noble ones is something else entirely.”

Pretty much this.

Purification of the mind in Buddhism, to me, is abandoning the five hindrances and following the Eightfold Path. Through seeing things as they really are, the "pollution" that mind creates naturally washes away.


03 May 16, 02:22
My view is that purification in Buddhism is purification of the mind so that we can realise "truths" and gain the benefits that are associated with the truths. For example if we look at the Suddhatthaka Sutta: On Purity:

"'Here I see one who is pure, entirely free of sickness. By seeing him a man may attain to purity!'

"Convinced of that and thinking it 'the highest,' he believes it to be knowledge when he contemplates 'the pure one.'[1] But if by sights man can gain purification or if through such knowledge he could leave suffering behind, then, one who still has attachments could be purified by another.[2] However, this is merely the opinion of those who so assert.

"The (true) brahmana[3] has said one is not purified by another, nor by what is seen, heard or perceived (by the other senses), nor, by the performance of ritual observances. He (the true brahmana) is not defiled by merit or demerit. Having given up what he had (previously) grasped at, he no longer engages in producing (any kamma). Having left a former (object) they attach themselves to another, dominated by craving they do not go beyond attachment. They reject and seize, like a monkey letting go of a branch to take hold of another.

"A person having undertaken a ritual act goes this way and that, fettered by his senses. But one with a wide wisdom, having understood and gone into the Dhamma with his experience, does not go this way and that. For a person indifferent towards all conditions, whatever is seen, heard or cognized, he is one who sees it as it really is and lives with clarity (of mind). With what could he be identified in the world?

"They do not speculate nor pursue (any notion), they do not claim perfect purity. Loosening the knot (of clinging) with which they are bound, they do not have longing anywhere in the world. The (true) brahmana who has gone beyond limitations, having understood and seen there is no longer any assumption for him, he is neither disturbed by lust nor agitated by revulsion. For him there is nothing upheld as 'the highest.'"