I hesitate to post on wrongful purity of heart. I want so much to simply look at the possibility of cleanliness and stay there. But, we humans, all of us to one degree or another, are on the way, incomplete, unfinished. In short, we are a mixed bag even individually. The end goal toward which we strive culminates in purity of heart, but it is a journey to get there and our lives, at their best are constant reaffirmations of inadequacy, the significance of the inadequacy, submission to adequacy, real transformation of desire for purity, and the application of patience and allowance to ourselves as long as we are really striving. As we get into this groove and attempt to stay there we are staying in progress which means that purity is increasing. It is all in staying in the groove.
The temptation, in our animality, is to want to verify our progress and even to use purity of heart as a kind of currency and he with the largest bank account is the richest. We are feeling beings. We are social and feeling beings. Pleasure and honor are our native tendencies. When that which is best becomes servant to that which is worse (not worst) it is utterly corrupted and destroyed. When purity of heart becomes a commodity it is ruined. There are several problems.
First, the minute one begins to weight, compare and judge more or less one needs a standard. But this is precisely the standard that has not yet been acquired and so the very task s corrupted by the fact that he who is weighing and comparing must stop pursuing the standard that he needs for weighing and comparing.
Second, spirit is invisible. At least compared to our animality which is material we have no way of measuring it. In principle, the practice of trying to trade in virtue or righteousness is impossible.
Third, in trying to one-up a fellow in virtue or righteousness one has lost purity of heart. The goal is all wrong. The aim is all distorted.
Fourth, the pharisees. Jesus of Nazareth was maybe harder on those who assumed they could measure virtue or righteousness by external activities than anything else in his time here. It is a category mistake to think that praying or fasting or charity are anything. The motive is everything. By focusing on the external rule-following the pharisees negated the possibility of spiritual growth and development.
None of this is to say that we need no rules or that we should not distinguish between permissible and impermissible. No, we are material beings and there are rules (laws) which govern the preservation and destruction of our being. We must live together and come to agreement on what we are to allow and disallow, and given our past proof of criminality and vice we must be ready to defend the innocent against the offender by allocating punishment and reward. There is much to say here.
The first and most important thing to say is that this whole area has been massively mistakened for an area of morality. It is not. It is the area of legality. We must begin to drive a wedge between the two categories of legal and moral if only to prevent burning at the stake and hanging homosexuals. I reserve talk of the moral for talk of character and will and intention. It is talk of the free spirit that is at the core of each man. I reserve talk of laws and restrictions and prohibitions for how it is best to gather the strength of free spirits and prevent harm to free spirits.
Second, anything beyond “Don’t break contracts” and “Don’t aggress” is too much. “Don’t aggress” must only apply to what one may do to another or his property. The disposal of personal property or body must be left to the free spirit. Otherwise there is tyranny.
He who attempts to make society moral through law is a pharisee and a tyrant thinking he knows in his incompleteness which should rule over which and which should aggress against which. The only alternative is anarcho-capitalism politically.
The only alternative for approaching purity of heart, besides the mistake of continual effort at verification, is to keep so focused on seeing the divine that one never looks for anything else.