Cleanliness is next to Godliness

Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

I’ve been thinking about this phrase the last couple days. It’s source doesn’t seem to be certain. I personally have associated it with Christians, although I am not sure why. Some say it can be traced back to ancient Hebrew writings.

A big part of my journey, and my personal belief system, has to do with cutting through the illusions and deceptions of my (western) world. As I learn more about how and why things (including myself) work, increasing my understanding, the more of my ‘Self’ (my perceived needs, values, prejudices, etc.) I shed. This is part of what I am talking about when I refer to ‘Return’ as one side of an aspect of the human experience.

I have noticed that as this process takes place, the more I revert/return to being a person that might be called ‘good’, and the more my thoughts and actions are in line with common moral teachings of the major religions.

This process of shedding my ‘Self’, and unlearning, might be like cleaning myself up. I have been removing the stains (some of them very tough) of values and beliefs that have been drilled into me, through various channels, since I was a child. Some of these values, ideas, and ‘needs’ don’t actually serve me, let alone the community. They are selfish, divisive, materialistic, vain… They are dirt.

To paraphrase St. Paul (not that I am a Christian), I won’t be conformed to this world, but be renewed (made like new again) by the transforming of my mind. I will return to my natural/original state, perhaps created in God’s image, and perhaps intended to walk in the same manner as He walked.

In other words, as I clean myself up, removing the stains I have acquired from my/this western world, perhaps I will emulate Jesus in my own humble way, and be next to Godly

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Whoever Jesus was, He was like water. He was good to all, expressing and doing love. The Tao Teh Ching (chapter 8) says that higher good is like water- the good in it benefits all, and it can be found in lowest of places, where people dislike to be. As I make my own humble journey in this direction, I hope to emulate water- clear, yielding, noncontentious, and good to all. Having said that, I will also say that I hope to emulate Him (Jesus), in my own less-than-perfect way.

Jesus’ unconditional love, keeping company with, and guiding, even the lowest of His society (tax collectors, prostitutes, etc.), placing Himself in harm’s way for others, not clinging to worldly wealth, serving others… I could go on. These are all attributes of someone who has no self, but who instead has an existence and purpose that transcends his individual life. It makes me think of someone who has achieved enlightenment and Oneness- the ultimate result of the Return.

Truly if Jesus had the consciousness of God (you can’t get any higher of a consciousness), total perception, knowledge, and understanding, then His ‘Return’ would be complete- His enlightenment would be complete, and He would be indistinguishable from the the Divine (…maybe that statement is redundant… or maybe that’s how some recognized Him to be Divine).

I have observed many parallels between the walk and attitudes of the Taoist sage, and the Christian path. I think If I were to substitute the word ‘heaven’ for ‘God’ in the Tao Teh Ching, it would be hard to distinguish the practical teachings of the Bible and that Taoist text.

I am off on a tangent here, just rambling on, thinking out loud/in typed word… Any thoughts, regardless of how religious or Christian they might be, would be welcome. Jesus’ qualities, and description as Divine, as example of the ultimate result of Return, is an idea I intend to explore.

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5 thoughts on “Cleanliness is next to Godliness

  1. I love the convergence of the Bible and the Tao Teh Ching here. I completely agree that both texts can be read symbiotically. I also like the trope of cleanliness. I believe that we were all whole, pure, and clear, but our journey is to return to this state. Thus, the game is already won. We don’t have to attain enlightenment; we just have to return to it.

    • I agree with you, Kozo. I like how you put this: that the game is already won, meaning that we are inherently divine; it’s just a matter of finding it again, through the stripping away of the ego.

    • I really like how you put that, too- the game is already won. I’m going to remember that one. That’s an inspiring way to put it. I don’t need to struggle and strive so much as I need to let go of the Self/ego, and I will return to that innocence and be closer to that divinity in all of us.

  2. You have embodied, I think, the meaning behind the lyrics of Return To Innocence, by Engima. This stripping away the efforts of the ego is like detoxifying the mind/consciousness of the illusions set upon it simply by being raised in a discordant environment where the ego is constantly adverted. Once that has been stripped away, what remains is the “Innocence” or that “divinity”. This is the return, not so much as a going back, but a turning away from the shadows on the wall (for the ego) and looking toward the light (for the consciousness/mind) to borrow from Plato’s allegory.

    Great post.

    • “Detoxifying the mind”- Another great way to put it that I’m going to remember. Thanks. Thanks for the comments, too. 🙂 Always honored to have any feedback from such beautiful spirits.

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