Purity is simple to understand. Purity is flawless quality. Gerard Groot in his famous fourteenth century book of meditation, has an essay entitled, “Of Pure Mind and Simple Intention,” in which he says, “By two wings a man is lifted up from things earthly, namely by Simplicity and Purity. Simplicity doth tend towards God; Purity doth apprehend and taste Him.”
Purity is a quality of both the mind and the heart, or perhaps we should say the soul of a man. As far as the mind is concerned, it is a simple case of answering the question, “Is it right, or is it wrong?” That should be easy for us. There is no twilight zone between right and wrong. Even in our drinking days we knew the difference. With most of us, knowing the difference was the cause or part of the cause of our drinking. We did not want to face the reality of doing wrong. It isn’t in the realm of the mental aspects of purity that our main problem lies. We can all answer the question quoted above to the best of our ability and get the correct answer.
It’s in the realm of the heart, and spirit that we face difficulty. We know which is right, but do we have the dedicated will to do it? Just as a real desire to stop drinking must exist to make our way of life effective for us, so we must have a determined desire to do that which we know is right, if we are to achieve any measurable degree of purity. It has been well said that intelligence is discipline. In other words knowledge means little until it goes into action. We knew we should not take the first drink, remember? Until we translate our knowledge into the action of our own lives, the value of it is non-existent. We are not intelligent under such circumstances. So it with the decency of our lives. We know what is right, but unless we do it, the knowledge is a haunting vacuum.
In discussing unselfishness we mentioned that it includes more than just doing for others. We repeat that it includes all that we do, since much of our help to others comes through our own example. Nowhere is this more true than in the decency and rightness of our life. Were we to contemplate the peace and contentment that a pure conscience would bring to us, and the joy and help that it would bring to others, we would be more determined about our spiritual progress. If our surrender under the Third Step has not been absolute, perhaps we should give the Eleventh Step more attention. If you have turned your will and your life over to God as you understand Him, purity will come to you in due course because God is Good. Let us not just tend toward God, let us taste of him.
In Purity as in Honesty the virtue lies in our striving. And like seeking truth, giving our all in its constant pursuit, will make us free even thought we may never quite catch up to it. Such pursuit is a thrilling and challenging journey. The Journey is just as important as the destination, however slow it may seem. As Goethe says, “In living as in knowing be intent upon the purest way.”
-This article is referenced to a pamphlet titled “The Four Absolutes,” printed by Cleveland Central Committee of AA